All I’ll Never Be was the title originally given to this story of a 25 year old French adoptee who was born in Korea. It shows the attempt to find her identity on her first visit, and imagines what she might have been had she not been adopted.
Freddie (Ji-Min Park, a visual artist in her first film role) spontaneously changes her holiday to Tokyo when a cyclone causes the cancellation of her flight and goes instead to Korea planning on staying for two weeks. She phones her adoptive mother saying “I just needed to go somewhere”.
There is no clue as to what she does for a living or what she wants from life – and she knows nothing about Korea, and doesn’t know the language. Freddie is headstrong and not an easy person to like.
She has a disregard for local customs but a friendship develops with Tena (Guka Han), the receptionist at the guesthouse, and at her suggestion she goes to an adoption centre to look for her birth parents. A photo with her mother which has a number on the back is the only clue she can give them.
The agency is able to put her in touch with her birth parents, and with Tena as translator she goes to visit her guilt-stricken alcoholic father (OH Kwang-rok) and his new family who live in a small town outside Seoul. They treat her like she is coming home and want her to stay and marry a good Korean husband, and things don’t go well. She does not hear from her mother.
The film is unconventional and wildly unpredictable. It is made in three parts, over eight years of Freddie’s life. It has abrupt changes and an ambiguous ending, and challenges the audience to emphasise with a character who does not want sympathy. She is perhaps trying to find a new version of herself.
This is the second feature film from director-writer Davy Chou who was inspired by the story of a close friend, and his own life. It was written in collaboration with Ji-Min Park.
Spoken in French, Korean and English languages.
Showing at Somerville Nedlands from December 12 to 18 at 8 pm.
Watch the trailer…