A quietly gripping South Korean film from first-time director July Jung, A Girl at My Door (Dohee-ya) rings some interesting changes on that old cinematic standby, the disgraced big-city cop relocated to a backwater town.
Transferred after an ambiguous scandal to a small seaside town, former police academy high-flier Young-nam (Doona Bae, the cloned ‘fabricant’ in Cloud Atlas) becomes the protector of a waifish young girl, Dohee (Sae-ron Kim), who is being bullied by her schoolfellows and brutalised by her drunken stepfather, the local gangmaster (Sae-byuk Song). But doing good turns out to be a messy business.
The more we learn about the story’s protagonists, the more complicated our response to the situation becomes. Young-nam is not as self-possessed as she appears – a secret drinker, she hides alcohol in water bottles – while Dohee is not entirely vulnerable and innocent. And as the plot twists and turns on the way to an emotionally ambivalent resolution, Jung supplies challenging and sometimes disquieting food for thought.
Certificate 18. Runtime 119 mins. Director July Jung.
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