A Girl at My Door
Dohee-ya
South Korea, 2014, 119 minutes
A Girl at My Door Synopsis

Having premiered in Un Certain Regard Cannes Film Festival, A GIRL AT MY DOOR is a fresh and rare gem, directed and written by July Jung (one of the few female filmmakers to have emerged from South Korea) and produced by Lee Changdong who directed created masterpieces POETRY and SECRET SUNSHINE.


Young-nam was a top graduate of the Korean police academy, but due to “misconduct” is transferred to a post at a small seaside village. On her first patrol she encounters the mysterious Dohee; a young girl excluded by her local community.


As Young-nam adapts to her new life, she witnesses Dohee’s situation and is compelled to protect the girl from her family by letting her move in. All is well with this unconventional arrangement until Dohee’s drunken father decides he wants her back.

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Reviewed by AmyDunning
Beautifully filmed in rural South Korea, A girl at my doorrnfollows Policewoman Young-Nam as she is relocated to a small fishing villagernand becomes intertwined with a young girl and her... more
Beautifully filmed in rural South Korea, A girl at my doorrnfollows Policewoman Young-Nam as she is relocated to a small fishing villagernand becomes intertwined with a young girl and her abusive father, Yong-Ha. Playedrnby Doona Bae, Young-Nam is a striking vision of female authority, her fiercernno-nonsense attitude is hinted to be a cover for an equally complicated past,rnand she uses it as a mechanism to intervene into a dominatingly patriarchalrnsociety. The new town she moves to first appears to the viewer as a pastoralrnidyll, yet as the small town politics reveal themselves, a darker and morerndysfunctional side reveals itself as Young-Nam investigates Yong-Ha played byrnSae-byeok Song. rnrnJuly Jong, one of a few Korean female writers and directors,rncarefully reveals the vulnerability of young women by navigating contemporaryrnsocial problems including domestic abuse, abandonment and homosexuality. Whenrnthe two young women are flung together they are able to intimately investigaterntheir own troubled pasts. Alcoholism plagues Young-Nam throughout the story,rnusing it as a sedative to encourage her to sleep and forget her previousrnmisconduct, as well as seeing it materialise in the abuse the young girlrnreceives when her father is drunk. Despite a thin background explanation ofrnYoung-Nam, the film does not lose out because Bae carries the film with herrnpowerfully dynamic performance. Silent close-ups of her taking a drink after arnparticularly difficult day, or with her eyes closed in the bath work wonders atrnportraying her vulnerability and also her inability to cope with her past. Young-Nam’srnhomosexuality complicates the plot further, and although no characters in thernfilm openly disapprove of her lifestyle, it is apparent that it is largelyrnfrowned upon. rnrnInterspersed with moments of high tension, and silent longrncamera shots, this film is gripping from start to finish. Young-Nam has veryrnlittle dialogue throughout the film, which contrasts starkly to Yong-Ha and hisrnmother who cannot complete a sentence without swearing or vulgarity. From thernoutset, Young-Nam is an outsider who is unable to comprehend a society thatrnenables such abuse of the law to occur. Criminal gang-leader, Yong-Ha has thernprotection of the police until Young-Nam unearths the abuse he inflicts uponrnhis daughter. Cleverly edited, the film enables the viewer to become engrossedrnin the personal lives of both Young-Nam and the girl. The violence that flowsrnthroughout the film does not overwhelm the subplots, but instead enables themrnto flourish, revealing deep and well-developed characters. rnrnAmazing performances are given by all three of the leadrncharacters, Sae-ron Kim as the young girl is particularly moving, resonatingrnwith the audience after the film. The success of this film comes in the abusedrncharacters’ abilities to move beyond their classification as victim, theirrnemotional journeys are played out before our eyes as we discover that there isrnno innocence left in the child. They learn, and they grow from their troubledrnpasts. Kim’s portrayal of the abused girl is spectacular, and leaves thernaudience wondering what will happen as this child grows, are years of domesticrnabuse reversible, or will she carry those scars for the rest of her life?rnDespite its dense subject matter, this film is a refreshing attempt tornhighlight the injustices that occur at the hands of alcoholism and domesticrnabuse, a topic which although is set in Korea, could just as well have beenrnapplied to any other country in the world. 
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AmyDunning  great review. Thanks!
AmyDunning  great review. Thanks!
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AmyDunning I wouldn't call the subject matter dense IMHO. It's not new, though. I'm with you with the idea that it is applicable globally. The story was executed quite well with great casts and the contrasting beauty of the rural setting and the ugliness of domestic abuse and alcoholism. 
AmyDunning I wouldn't call the subject matter dense IMHO. It's not new, though. I'm with you with the idea that it is applicable globally. The story was executed quite well with great casts and the contrasting beauty of the rural setting and the ugliness of domestic abuse and alcoholism. 
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Reviewed by vickypierre
Doona Bae's great and all but I was more interested in seeing how that kid from The Man from Nowhere has grown up.  Turns out that she's a pretty talented... more
Doona Bae's great and all but I was more interested in seeing how that kid from The Man from Nowhere has grown up.  Turns out that she's a pretty talented and likeable though sometimes (intentionally) unnerving young actress. There's an intriguing ambiguity to her character that adds important layers to the film as a whole which, by the way, is always nicely shot and well performed.
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vickypierre  I agree with you. Complicated  characters are so enticing.
vickypierre  I agree with you. Complicated  characters are so enticing.
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Reviewed by ClementineB
We all know Doona Bae's talent travels beyond the borders of South Korea, but it really shines when she's acting in Korean indie films, such as A GIRL AT MY... more
We all know Doona Bae's talent travels beyond the borders of South Korea, but it really shines when she's acting in Korean indie films, such as A GIRL AT MY DOOR. Her encounter and relationship with young Dohee is at the same time unexpected and tender. Sae Ron Kim also does an  amazing job here. Not much is said throughout the films, the strongest scenes are according to me, the daily life actions (running, eating) and the way Young-nam and Dohee observe each other and try to adapt to the situation while the young woman tries to protect her. Added to the storyline are the lesbian and immigrant worker sub-plots that remains interesting and subtle. The film is definitely worth a watch.
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ClementineB This is the first movie where I've seen Doona Bae. Do you mind recommending some of her films I can check out? Thanks!
ClementineB This is the first movie where I've seen Doona Bae. Do you mind recommending some of her films I can check out? Thanks!
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  • Lee Chang-dong produced this film and you can feel his presence all the way through (in a good way, not a creepy stalkerish way).

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  • Lee Chang-dong produced this film and you can feel his presence all the way through (in a good way, not a creepy stalkerish way).
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  • Doona can do no wrong! (especially when she gets the blame from the police!)

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  • Doona can do no wrong! (especially when she gets the blame from the police!)
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  • Doona Bae knocks it out of the park in this Cannes film that divided opinion. The 'lesbian' subplot seems to have gotten much attention, but there's a lot more going on here.

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  • Doona Bae knocks it out of the park in this Cannes film that divided opinion. The 'lesbian' subplot seems to have gotten much attention, but there's a lot more going on here.
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