Director: Kim Cho-hee
Released in 2020.
This was a great choice because I nearly picked a Hong Sang-soo film instead and we all know how cheerful those are! Seriously though, I love Hong’s films but I guess I needed something a little more positive.
Nevertheless, Lucky Chan-sil isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It explores the difficulties Korean women face because of sexist societal expectations that prioritise marriage and childbearing over career. These expectations are internalised and this makes for an added sense of failure when 40-year-old film producer Chan-sil (Kim Mal-geum) finds herself suddenly jobless, single and childless following the death of the director she’s worked with for years. Has she thrown away the best years of her life for nothing? Should she have chosen marriage over a career?
Depressed and lonely, Chan-sil attempts to find new meaning in life and in herself. It’s actually what you’d expect of a Hong Sang-soo film, but without his requisite sleazy, sexist male characters.
Although I could feel Chan-sil’s despair, I wasn’t bogged down by it; nor was my sympathy for her complicated by anger at some selfish man treating her like dirt, and the frustration of witnessing her allow him to.
Instead, there are friends, old and new, realistically imperfect and frequently disappointing, but ultimately proving to be the key to surviving life’s trials and realising one’s worth.
My favourite character: the underwear-clad ghost of Leslie Cheung (played with perfect comic timing by Kim Jong-nim). He may truly be a ghost, or he may be a figment of Chan-sil’s imagination — a neat way of showing that what she ultimately needs is simply to forgive and accept herself.