"I want to quit the class... Can I have a refund?"
In Between Days is a collaboration between Korea, the USA and Canada which tells the story of Aimee (Kim Jiseon), who has recently emigrated from Korea to Canada with her mother, detailing a period in her life in which she is forced to, simultaneously, deal with her position as a stranger in a strange land; her burgeoning womanhood; and the complex, often contradictory, feelings which result from both.
A student in an English language class, her only friend is Tran (Taegu Andy Kang), with whom she has a, so far, platonic relationship, but it is clear from the earliest stages of the film that her feelings for him run much deeper than she is prepared to divulge. In fact, Aimee doesn't share her feelings much with anyone except (in voiced-over monologues) her estranged father, whom she misses deeply, and the more complicated her conflicted feelings (regarding everything in her life) become, the more her isolation grows...
With In Between Days, Kim So-yong has created a meditative and thought-provoking work which deftly shows Aimee's heart in every scene, without the need for expositional dialogue or plot explanations. The film is much more concerned with the accurate creation of mood - rather than specific, or contrived, plot twists - and is much stronger and more stirring as a result.
Setting the film in the snow covered, barren landscape of Northern Canada adds to the isolation of each of the main characters (Aimee, her mother and Tran) and the majority of scenes mainly showing Aimee alone, or in the sole company of Tran, combined with incredibly close-up camera work (increasingly positioning her claustrophobically looking out at a wider, more open world of which she isn't really a part), result in the growing loneliness which Aimee feels being almost palpable.
Tran is much further towards assimilation into his relatively new surroundings and it is clear that while he cares for Aimee (though the extent of this is not shown to either Aimee or the audience until the latter stages of the film), he feels a need to make increasing associations and acquaintances with others around him and, typically of an adolescent, he is either unaware of, or unconcerned with, the effect that this has on Aimee.
As the story progresses, Aimee slowly begins to realize that she has little option but to deal with either watching Tran slip from her grasp; finding a way to bring him closer; or putting her feelings for him aside and moving on with her life.
Watching her as she tries to rationalise her tangled feelings, desperate to find the right course of action to take, is both a beautiful and yet difficult experience, and the issues raised in the process will stay with audiences long after Aimee's story is fully told.
In Between Days was shot entirely on digital video, and though there is a little graininess in a couple of the scenes the overall feeling that this could easily be a real-life documentary, rather than a work of fiction, is actually helped by this.
Director of Photography, Sarah Levy, has done a superb job of showing the barrenness, and freezing conditions, of the surroundings - the slight, but deliberate camera shake almost making viewers feel physically cold as the characters move around within the snowy vista - as well as visually representing the inner turmoil within Aimee by repeatedly placing the camera perspective as close to her as is humanly possible.
Kim So-yong seems to have an uncanny knack of both choosing a great cast and elicting near perfect performances from all. None of the cast in In Between Days had ever acted before and it is a tribute to her skill as a director that that fact is only noticed when she specifically talks about it in the accompanying interview which forms part of the DVD extra features.
Though this was Kim So-yong’s first narrative feature, she has a remarkable confidence in her telling of the story and thankfully has no fear of minimal dialogue, or long periods of silence - allowing the feelings of the characters to come to the fore to a much greater degree, and the plot to build at its own pace
A meditative and thought-provoking film which charts the inner turmoil of a girl struggling to come to terms with a new life and changing feelings, In Between Days is beautifully filmed, superbly acted and expertly realised.
The transfer to DVD is accomplished and (aside from the aforementioned slight graininess) is incredibly clear – a plus point of using digital. The resultant anamorphic DVD print is presented with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1.
Sound is provided as Dolby 2.0 and, as the soundtrack (which is mainly Korean with sections of English) has no incidental music whatsoever, save for the end credits, the background sounds of life come through beautifully clearly – almost providing a soundtrack of their own.
Excellent subtitles are provided throughout the main feature, and the audio of all of the extras is in English.
DVD extras consist of a fourteen-minute interview with So Yong Kim and Bradley Rust Grey which is informal yet informative.
A stills gallery concludes the DVD extras.
In Between Days (DVD) (US Version)
Director: Kim So-yong
Country of Origin: South Korea/USA/Canada
Picture Format: NTSC
Disc Format(s): DVD (Single Disc)
Region Code: Region 1