Welcome to the world of celebrities and motherhood! Sort of.
Director Kim Tae-gon brings us a serious comedy or a funny drama involving getting old in show business, teen pregnancy, the cult of celebrity worship and above all, the concept of family. South Korea’s acting diva Go Ju-yeon (Kim Hey-soo) is middle-aged and her roles are starting to be scarce. She’s not taking it well, and she’s figured the perfect remedy: become a mother! Meanwhile, young and poor art student Dan-ji (Kim Hyeon-soo) is now pregnant and her world is falling apart. Are they each other’s solution? Welcome to Familyhood.
Go Ju-yeon’s right hand man, stylist Pyung Yu (Dong-Seuk Ma) tries to keep a crazy but fun household together as Go Ju-yeon and Dan-ji enter a crazy arrangement where the actress will revitalize her career as an expectant mother and Dan-ji will receive financial support and give away her child. Things are not going to go as planned as jealous ex-boyfriends, sexist double standards and a judgemental society will get in the way. Not to mention Go Ju-yeon has never learned to see other needs than her own.
It’s not a cautionary tale against pregnancy, but rather a light comedy that tackles the double standards that South Korean society has against pregnant teens. Dan-ji is embarrassed to be seen and ready to quit an art contest while her ex-boyfriend who left her in such a state is traveling to the states as captain of a golf team. Dan-ji and Go Ju-yeon end up befriending each other and helping each other to a nice bowl of revenge, it’s a matter of time before they get discovered.
Filmed in gorgeous colour and always looking fabulous, the movie does an amazing work of transitioning from comedy to drama to real life and back to comedy. It’s not realistic. Go Ju-yeon’s small team is obviously a family of sorts, except they’re all parents to Go’s childlike behaviour. The fact that they’re all willing to put with her even when the shit hits the fan and her decisions can potentially ruin all their lives is just movie magic. The same goes when Dan-ji’s mercenary of a sister and her boyfriend try to coerce the diva for more money.
There’s a scene in which Pyung Yu’s wife Sang-mi (Seo Hyun-Jin) drops a reality bomb on Go Ju-yeon’s dinner for her team: they’re all here for her when she’s sad, she’s nowhere for them when she’s happy. It’s the only glimpse that we get at how unfair is the balance of power. In the end, we know it’s going to be up to Go Ju-yeon to choose between saving her career or finally grow up to be a human person.
Highs: A positive message of being decent to those around you. It also exposes the hypocrisy of teenage pregnancy where the guy keeps moving on with his life and the girl gets stuck with the baby and the scorn from those who shame her. Plenty of laughs and a positive message that should resonate with audiences of every generation.
Lows: Although it’s endearing to see Go Ju-yeon standing up for Dan-ji, it’s still her star power that allows her to break that barrier. The movie still paints celebrity status as an ultimate power, although it does kinda humanize it in the end. Sort of dodges the controversy of abortion a little too easy.
Highly recommended for some laughs and a little drama to give you some happy tears. A feel good movie that doesn’t try to gross you out and teaches you tolerance without preaching it.
Coming up, maybe!
- Friday, July 29: Too Young To Die (Japan) / Yoga Hosers (USA).
- Saturday, July 30: Bakuman (Japan).
- Sunday, July 31: Train to Busan (Japan) / Before I Wake (USA).
- Wednesday, August 3: Don’t Breathe (USA).
That will do for now.