Review: THE TABLE Gathers Quartet of Superb Actresses in Elegant Drama
Jung Yu-mi, Jung Eun-chae, Han Ye-ri, and Lim Soo-jung star; Kim Jong-kwan directed.
Kim Jong-kwan assembles some of the finest actresses working in Korea today for his delightful new drama The Table. In some ways the Korean indie cousin of Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes, this elegant, delicate and humorous collection of four extended conversations works beautifully as a feature film, unlike the vast majority of omnibuses that are so popular in local cinema.
A barista readies her small cafe for the day's business in a quiet Seoul neighborhood. Around the same table, from morning until evening, different woman engage in conversations as they navigate old, new and uncertain relationships.
In the first story, Jung Yu-mi (Train to Busan) plays a top star who meets a former flame from her youth, now a salary worker. They haven't met in a long time and all he seems to care about is her status as a celebrity. Jung Eun-chae (Nobody's Daughter Haewon) plays the shy girl of the second conversation who meets a young man who has just returned from a long trip abroad. Prior to his abrupt departure, they had only met briefly.
However, Kim's greatest achievements are the at times fresh, disarming and perceptive performances he draws out of his leads. The quartet of actresses he has built the film around are all superb, particularly Jung Yu-mi, whose grace and masked distress paint a rich and realistic character in a short time, largely through her exceptionally expressive eyes.
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