a young woman shaken by the search for her origins

Freddie (Park Ji-Min) in “Return to Seoul”, by Davy Chou.


Born in 1983 to Cambodian parents, grandson of Van Chann, one of the greatest producers of Cambodian cinema, Davy Chou likes to anchor himself in a territory whose surviving treasures he scrutinizes – the cinematographic heritage of Cambodia in The Golden Sleep (2012) – or pretenses – the strange paradise of luxury buildings in Diamond Island (2016). His third feature film, Return to Seoulventures into South Korea, alongside a heroine in search of her origins: Freddie (Park Ji-Min, visual artist) is a disconcerting young woman who leads the world by wand, through her provocations and of his headbutts.

Born in South Korea twenty-five years ago, Freddie was quickly adopted by a French couple. Here she arrives one day in Seoul, by chance, because she could not find a ticket for Japan, we are told. Spurred on by his landlady, Freddie decides to find his father and mother – the story is freely inspired by the story of a friend of the filmmaker, a number of South Korean children having been adopted abroad in this way.

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Freddie is quick to find traces of his parents, and paradoxically this is where the difficulties begin. The filmmaker strives to capture the instability of the young woman with regard to her painful journey that she had never, until then, taken the time to analyze. It’s as if Freddy’s whole life has been flattened by an iron in his French family. We remove the folds, we hide them carefully, and then one day the young adopted woman finds herself all crumpled up. By itself, Freddie is an insurrection, of which Davy Chou documents the tremors over ten years, just softened by pop music and the ubiquitous celebrations of Seoul youth.

Identity quest

Return to Seoul is a torrential melody of love and anger, punctuated by Freddie’s reversals (which can get boring in the long run) and his quest for identity. This seems endless and proceeds in waves just like the film, which is believed to end several times, before it bounces on another ground, from an underground club in Seoul to meeting a merchant. of arms (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing).

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The most beautiful scenes are in the reunion with the father, with all the embarrassment and suffering that resurface in this devastated man – admirably played by Oh Kwang-Rok. Entrusting your own child to another family, hoping to guarantee him a better future, is a wrench, and above all a bet that we will never know if it was worth it. Naively, this Korean father (no first name), who has since refounded a family with another woman, would like to make up for all those lost years. He shows attention to Freddie with heartbreaking awkwardness, buying him a pair of shoes on the market… But everything happens out of time. At the table, where we eat and especially where we drink, Davy Chou probes the incommunicability, the vertigo of incomprehension, with the presence of this woman who translates the words and tries to smooth the angles between the two confused souls. It is the other music of the film, floating and melancholic.

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