REVIEW – Film in the form of a road-movie, Kore-eda’s new feature film once again focuses on the family. With a strong empathy for his characters.
A palme d’or is the best passport. Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda, winner of the supreme award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018 with A family matter , puts his suitcases in Paris from his next film. He turns The truthwith Catherine Deneuve as an unfiltered movie star and Juliette Binoche in the role of his daughter, a screenwriter exiled in the United States back in France to settle scores with an outrageous mother.
With The Lucky Stars , the Japanese director travels less far since he sets his story in South Korea. Above all, he returns to his best, reconnecting with a finesse of line and an empathy for his characters without equal. Kore-eda puts his favorite themes back on the job: filiation, transmission, parent-child relationships. Children left to fend for themselves Nobody Knows. The family gathers each summer to commemorate the tragic death of the eldest son in still walking. The discovery of the exchange of two infants at birth in Like father, like son (Jury Prize at Cannes in 2013). The three generations of marginalized people keeping warm in the house ofA family matter… Kore-eda only films the family, united by blood ties or not. He films it with the grace and harshness that constitute his cinema, since his transition from documentary to fiction in the mid-1990s.
The virtues of sobriety
The Lucky Stars takes the opposite path toA family matter. Kore-eda this time shows a family in the making. Its nucleus is a baby, deposited one rainy evening by a young woman in front of a “baby box”, a box intended to collect abandoned children. The two men from the association who recover it decide to keep it. Sang-huyn (Song Kang-ho), baby carrier on his stomach and tender smile glued to his face, does not have the profile of a child trafficker. Yet that’s what he is, boss of an indebted and cunning laundry. He is watched by two policewomen who want to arrest him in flagrante delicto. Things get complicated when the baby’s mother comes back to pick him up. The two kidnappers take him on board by offering him a slice of the cake. Along the way, they take a kid and his ball from an orphanage. The whole troop boards a van in search of customers. A buyer in Seoul is willing to shell out 30 million won.
Kore-eda hits the road, after taking the train in I Wish, where two brothers separated after the divorce of their parents try to find each other. There’s even a corpse somewhere in a hotel room, goons looking for the child thieves. But Kore-eda is not Park Chan-wook. He prefers chronicle to film noir. The road-movie here gives everyone time to reveal their secrets and their suffering.
Kore-eda does not judge anyone. Neither the prostitute who abandons her baby, nor the inflexible police captain, nor the greedy child thief. Song Kang-ho, playing expressionist to say the least with Bong Joon-ho, discovers the virtues of sobriety and naturalness and learns delicacy. A scene shows him at the cafe in Seoul with his teenage daughter. The last time they saw each other, he was drunk. Without grimaces or raised eyebrows, Song Kang-ho squeezes his heart.
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