Name – Meet Mr. Daddy (눈부신 날에)
Running Time – 113 min
Director – Park Kwang Su
Actors – Park Shin Yang, Seo Shin Ae, Ye Ji Won
Genre – Drama
Suitable for – Adults, there are scenes of violence
As part of the “Year of the 12 Directors” project, run by the Korean Cultural Centre and the London Korean Film Festival, March was Park Kwang Su month. “Meet Mr. Daddy” was shown as the last film of the month, and Mr. Park was present to hold a Q&A after the screening. Prior to the screening we were invited to a group interview with the director where we had the chance to personally ask him some questions. You can read all about how Park Kwang Su is one of the most chilled out and laid back directors here
This trailer makes the film look a lot cheesier than it is!
Having not seen any Park Kwang Su films before, but having heard a lot about his past films being quite focused on the political side of things, we were intrigued to find out how this film would turn out and what messages could be taken from the story. The story centres on Woo Jong Dae (Park Shin Yang), a small time conman and general brawler, who while in jail for running card games and fighting on the streets, is told he has a daughter when the melancholy teacher Sun Young (Ye Ji Won) visits him in jail. Sun Young tells Jong Dae that the child would like to spend time with her father before being adopted overseas. Having a child doesn’t fit into Jong Dae’s somewhat volatile, precarious life and general plans, so is initially reluctant to agree to this plan, but is soon persuaded by adoption and expense fees being paid to him.Cue the child, Joon (Seo Shin Ae), who goes to live with Jong Dae in his trailer/container box in a junk yard (yes, I know, it does seem a bit irresponsible of the teacher to let the child stay in such an environment). Initially only in it for the money, Jong Dae is unwilling and frustrated with living with his daughter. However, Joon’s persistent cuteness gradually wins over Jong Dae who discovers that there can be more to his life, and that his involvement with crime is not only doing himself wrong but also proving harmful for his daughter. After a few expected incidents, Sun Young soon reveals that Joon is actually suffering from a serious illness, which causes Jong Dae to rethink his whole life. If you know Korean cinema, you can probably guess what this serious illness is, as it’s almost a cliché now how many times someone is diagnosed with this illness in Korean films or dramas. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but if you’re of a delicate emotional nature, have your tissues handy!Review:
I can see how some people might find this film a little sappy in places, and that at certain points, it’s very predictable; the extremely long and detailed trailer certainly didn’t help. However, there are many good points to this film. The acting is great, and Seo Shin Ae as Joon is very impressive (though some people in the audience found the constant cutesy role she was given a little grating). Park Shin Yang is fun to watch, his character of Jong Dae going from comedy role one minute, to a tragic fallen man the next. Park Kwang Su really has a way of showing you how awful the man is, yet somehow making you feel for him and rooting for his happiness in the end. Ye Ji Won’s character seems a little stilted at times and dare I say it, a little dull, but given the back story of the character it’s a bit more understandable. And we would also like to mention the Head Nun because she was certainly a “interesting” character…The most absorbing parts of the film for me were the moments where you get to see Jong Dae’s criminal side of life, and the subsequent trouble he found himself in with his crime bosses. These make for some of the more dramatic scenes in the film, such as the cage fight with the dogs. This could be because some of the child/father interaction scenes are a bit too sickly sweet or overdone for my tastes and had the emotional member of the MASSIVE tearing up already. If you enjoy a good bit of grumpy, reluctant father figure turned good guy with a heart plot, you’ll love the story progression, but if you’re watching this film with Park Kwang Su’s previous films in mind, you might be a bit miffed at the plot.*Spoiler alert*
There was one particular plot line that seemed quite confusing and out of place. If you’ve seen this and we mention the Head Nun and the calendar, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. One member of The MASSIVE even asked Park Kwang Su about the addition of this scene into the film during the Q&A session, as it changed the ‘feeling’ of the film somewhat, and we expected some sort of epic social message. But what we got was the simple answer of: “it meant that maybe being related was not relevant”. Park Kwang Su is a man of few words. This amused us as Park Kwang Su seemed pretty nonchalant about the scene, wasn’t concerned about it at all, and didn’t seem to think it changed the film in any way (we actually love this director, he’s so laid back about everything!). But we at the MASSIVE have decided to go all deep and think this must be some sort of social message about how people should not focus on blood ties because if the outcome is all good, it doesn’t matter. If society will just stop focusing on irrelevant facts and concentrate on the positive outcomes instead, we could all lead happier lives. In the end, the child was happy and the father benefited greatly with no significant consequences although we do feel a bit for Sun Young, we too shared your “OMG, it was all a lie” moment.
Even though parts of this film could be predicted from the outset, and the ending could be seen a mile off, I still found myself caught up in the emotion of it all, and though I’m loathe to admit it, did have a little cry. Even though a little cheesy, I was happy with the ending of the film, as all the characters’ stories were tied up nicely and left you with a nice warm feeling. Ultimately, I did enjoy this film, but wouldn’t choose to show any friends or family this film if I were trying to introduce them to Korean cinema.
I give this film……..