For the uninitiated, Soon-rye Yim's 'Little Forest' is a remake the Japanese minimal-arthouse film of the same name. I must admit, I was pretty uninitiated, and watched this delightful Korean film first. I actually preferred it to the original, it's a much easier view, focussing on the character Hye-Won played by the excellent Tae-ri Kim and relations with her mother and friends. It's a different approach to the original, more mainstream and accessible. Rural life is at the heart of things, but doesn't always take centre-stage. So, while the Japanese film documents so much detail (weather, food, recipes, cultural events, nature etc.) you lose sight of the people, which may have been the intention. Both films have their merits, but I found this one enchanting. The support work of the other actors makes the story fun and engaging (Jun-yeol Ryu is quite heroic and funny in the role of local farmer Jae-ha, Hye-won's possible 'love interest', and Ki-joo Jin is excellent as the feisty no-nonsense best friend Eun-sook), and there's a nice arc at the end, so some 'matters' seem to be resolved (unlike in the Japanese film, will they make a 3rd version so we can find out what actually happened to the mother, for example?).So my advice, watch the original 'Little Forest' but take plenty of supplies and climb the 'mountain' in stages (with both 2014's Summer-Autumn and 2015's Winter-Spring that's 4 hours of dense and detailed viewing). While you're making all the necessary preparations, sit back and enjoy this little charmer!
Kim Tae-ri has mostly done dramatic, ensemble films in her short but extremely promising career. Here she is the dominant character in a slice of life, and she carries it beautifully. There is not twists or turns, just a normal young woman dealing with growing up, and you stay completely engaged in her story thanks to Tae-ri's performance.The supporting cast, Ryu Jun-yeol and Jin Ki-joo, playing childhood friends are wonderful as well. Ryu isn't the typical looks for a young Korean actor and all the better, he's actually charming.Food is a supporting character in of itself, of course. Farming and cooking are centering, the work is worth the reward.And if you wonder what happens at the end, note, she knows what he told the other woman ;)
It took a little time to get wrapped up in the plot, but after that it was a pleasure to watch on many levels. Ultimately, I feel it's about the question of living a simple life or not, but it also touches on other important issues.
This movie is not for everyone. Nor it's a classic k movie, focusing either on romance or crime. This one is a remake from the Japanese movies with the same name. However, this version, focuses more on the character and on her struggles rather than the nature and the recipies that she makes during the four seasons. Her relationships mostly revolve around her mother who left one day without explenation. After that, we are presented with the girl's friends and possible love interest, although a love story never gets really developed. Also, the heartwarming atmosphere and the love for a simple life near the nature is there, though it's not the focus of this movie.
Hubris is the only explanation I could come up with as to why anyone would want to attempt to "improve" on a version that is already quite good, if not perfect. Watch the Japanese version instead!!