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Little Forest (2018) (DVD) (Korea Version)
Kim Tae Ri (Actor) | Ryu Jun Yeol (Actor) | Moon So Ri (Actor) | Jin Ki Joo (Actor)
Little Forest (2018) (DVD) (Korea Version)
A similar yet different Little Forest
January 29, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
Since I really enjoyed the Japanese film adaptation of Igarashi Daisuke's manga Little Forest, I was quite curious about how the 2018 Korean adaptation would turn out, especially with Lim Soon Rye directing and Kim Tae Ri in the leading role. Though the Korean film doesn't bring any new surprises for those already familiar with the manga or the Japanese film, the charming, calming recipe of beautiful nature and scrumptious food holds up well for a second course of cinematic comfort food. Apart from the different setting, Lim's take on the story of a young woman living and cooking in the countryside does strike a subtly different tone that sets it apart from the Japanese version.

Shot at a village in Gyeongbuk, the Korean adaptation of Little Forest – like the Japanese adaptation – unfolds over four seasons, bringing different beautiful sceneries and delicious foods in each chapter. Kim Tae Ri of The Handmaiden fame is heroine Hye Won, who moves back to her remote rural hometown in the winter after failing her teacher certification exam in Seoul. Though she insists that the move is temporary, she actually has no idea how long she's staying or what her plans for the future are. While she takes refuge from the outside world, she gradually faces her inner anxieties and conflicts, including her feelings about her mother who suddenly left home one day to go live her own life. Over the four seasons of the year, Hye Won returns to a simpler life of growing and gathering ingredients from nature and recalling her mother's recipes to make mouth-watering dishes from scratch.

Hye Won's process of preparing different dishes is narrated and shot straight on so audiences can pick up recipes if desired. However, the cooking is generally less expository and more organically integrated in this film than in the Japanese film, which set apart the steps very clearly in visual presentation and narration. Perhaps partly because of the shorter length, the Korean film is not as detailed with the cooking and farming aspects in comparison to Mori Junichi's two-film adaptation.

Lim Soon Rye's Little Forest focuses more on the emotional ups and downs of the characters. In the Japanese adaptation, the reticent heroine played by Hashimoto Ai remains unreadable for much of the film, her inner turmoil hidden under a quiet storm. The Korean adaptation, while still quiet, is brighter, warmer and livelier. With Kim Tae Ri's expressive performance to match, the protagonist's confusions and frustrations regarding her mother and this transitional point of her life are more clearly conveyed. The film's depiction of Hye Won's relationship and interactions with her mother, in particular, brims with the warmth and resentment of family. As her childhood friends, Ryu Jun Yeol and Jin Ki Joo also leave deeper impressions with stronger characters and stories. Even in a relatively mild offering like this, Lim Soon Rye shows her strength in bringing out different aspects of the human condition.

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  • Region & Language: Hong Kong United States - English
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