Miss The Train (미성년)

Miss The Train (미성년)

So-jin (Park Joo-hee (박주희) lives a relatively humble life in the countryside with her mother, a shaman. When her mother dies, instead of embracing the role of the local shaman So-jin decides to leave everything behind and start afresh in Seoul. Yet she is stopped by a man whose son has gone missing, and demands her help in locating the youngster. Worse still, So-jin’s mother had promised the man that she knows the whereabouts of his son and would help, and becomes angry when she states otherwise. Desperate the flee the violent people of the village and catch the train, So-jin slowly begins to understand that destiny isn’t always of her choosing.

Miss the Train (미성년) is a highly atmospheric offering from director Lee Kyung-sub (이경섭). The drama is a slow-burning and occasionally poetic film due to the muted colour palette, which works well in conjunction with the cinematography to capture the sense of hopelessness in a dilapidated rural village. Miss the Train is quite a departure from director Lee’s previous short Mr. Vertigodisplaying a genuine stylistic and aesthetic evolution.

Problems arise however through the extremely muddled and oft-confusing story. Director Lee and screenwriter Kim Ja-ryung have attempted to craft an intriguing and mysterious coming-of-age tale, yet they continually seem to get caught up within their own narrative and as such events become increasingly more puzzling and often don’t make a lot of sense.

So-jin meets mysterious strangers on her quest to escape the village

So-jin meets mysterious strangers on her quest to escape the village

Miss The Train features not only multiple characters but realms as well, with the crossover between them a continual source of confusion. The intent is clearly to build layers of mystery and arouse curiosity, but the narratives devices employed to do so fail to generate suspense and are generally trite. Furthermore the plot is so full of holes that they tend to draw audiences out of the film, while the central story is fundamentally quite silly. The narrative certainly has potential, however it becomes clear rather quickly that the ideas within require further development.

Actress Park Joo-hee gives a competent performance throughout Miss The Train and tries her best to hold the film together, however her role is generally to draw audience focus during the mystery and as such she isn’t particularly stretched. She does well in conveying a mixture of strength and vulnerability, as well as building empathy, yet is often quite limited by the story itself. It will be interesting to see how Park Joo-hee fares in a more demanding role, as she displays potential throughout Miss The Train that is never fully explored.

So-jin contemplates her destiny

So-jin contemplates her destiny

Miss the Train (미성년) is an atmospheric indie drama by director Lee Kyung-sub (이경섭), who displays a genuine evolution in style from his previous work through his melancholy cinematography. Yet even so, the muddled and puzzling story is a continual source of frustration as the attempt to generate mystery and intrigue becomes lost within itself. Actress Park Joo-hee competently holds the film together, but even she cannot compensate for the various plot holes and contrivances that occur.

★★☆☆☆

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