Gateway | Dragons & Tigers
One of Korea’s top actors, on par with Song Kang-ho, Kim Yoon-seok proves to be just as brilliant behind the camera in his directorial debut. Kim, who also co-wrote the film, appears onscreen in a supporting role as a feckless married man whose affair with the mother of his daughter’s classmate comes to light. Emotions run high with the teenaged daughters (Kim Hye-jun, Park Se-jin) fighting in school and his wife (Yeom Jung-a) seeking out the pregnant lover (Kim So-jin). However, when a love child is born prematurely and in critical condition, the four women become each other’s pillars as they confront and console each other.
Bolstered by standout performances that complement each other, this delicate character-driven drama about indelicate relationships provides a compelling and empathetic portrait of family dysfunction - and the unlikely bonds and surprising choices borne from said dysfunction. In particular, the carefully crafted characters are wonderfully complex individuals, who brim with emotion and frustration. Yet Kim steers refreshingly clear of melodrama as they struggle to make sense of - and make right - their messy situation.