‘Birthday‘ was the first movie shown on the last day of KOFFIA 2019.
Director: Lee Jong-un
Cast: Sul Kyung-gu, Jeon Do-yeon, Kim Bo-min
‘Birthday‘ centres around a distraught family – a mother who loses a teenage son to the 2014 Sewol tragedy, his younger sister, and his father who comes back to Korea from abroad. It’s been three years since the ferry incident, and the family is still learning to deal with their loss. The parents have a rocky relationship, but the young sister plays a part in bridging them back together. The importance of family is evident in this movie as the characters ultimately realise that their bond has to be strong enough to deal with their loss together. Time does heal all wounds.
Grief is a central theme of ‘Birthday‘ as the main characters and many of the other family members experience grief and loss because of the incident. One interesting aspect of grief that the movie depicted is how different people deal with grief. The mother was in a state of denial for a while and she even bought her deceased son clothes and imagined having conversations with him. Meanwhile, other mothers who lost their children enjoyed the feeling of community, especially with those who were in similar situations. Nevertheless, everyone deals with grief in their own ways.
Because the son’s birthday was approaching, the father suggested having a birthday celebration for him with the help of a support foundation, hence the title of the film. It took almost the whole length of the movie for the mother to agree, but they finally celebrated his birthday with his friends and other community members. This was the most beautiful scene of the film as they showed a slideshow commemorating his life and his closest friends shared fond memories of him. His neighbour even reads a beautiful poem about him. The scene ends with his parents expressing their grief in the most heartbreaking way – it will leave you in tears.
I enjoyed ‘Birthday‘ because they dealt with grief and loss in a very realistic way and it was not exaggerated or dramatised. The actors deserve a standing ovation for their portrayals of the parents.
Thank you to the Korean Cultural Centre Australia for allowing Officially Kmusic to review this movie.
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Written by Lindsay
Edited by Lindsay