Subtle and unsentimental, Korean-American writer-director So Yong Kim, a multimedia artist, parses the halting assimilation of a Korean teen caught between her childhood back home and the fresh start she's not quite making in Toronto with her harried single mother.
So's minimalist feature debut is the video version of a bright, unsophisticated, self-centered teenage girl's diary, which is both praise and warning: The action is minimal and it's preoccupied with richly imagined psychodrama. Plump, tentative Aimie (Jiseon Kim) lacks both English-language fluency and the sassy, pop-culture-saturated confidence of more established immigrants her own age, and her neighborhood is a bleak landscape of concrete, grimy diners and highway overpasses. The rest of Toronto might as well not exist: Aimie doesn't go there. Even her best and only friend, Tran (Taegu Andy Kang), is seen entirely through her eyes: She likes hanging out with him, doodling, playing video games and singing karaoke. She has a little crush on him but doesn't know what to do about it, she's jealous when he starts spending time with other girls but would never stoop to say so. When Tran shows up at her door one night, needing somewhere to crash because he's been thrown out of his place, you realize you have no idea what his life is like: Does he live with his parents? Distant relatives? In a crash pad? Who knows: Aimie's focus is them, not him. She, meanwhile, alternates between retreating into her pink room, lashing out at her mother (Bokja Kim) and sending plaintive videos to the father in Korea who abandoned them, painting a cheerful picture of life in the West and anticipating the day they'll be reunited.
Inspired by the filmmaker's experience growing up in Los Angeles, named after the 1985 Cure song and cast entirely with nonprofessionals, IN BETWEEN DAYS is a small slice of a suspended life, intimate and filled with the mundane details most people forget when the waiting is over and their real lives begin. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh