Director: Choi insoles | Script: Malene Choi, Marianne Lentz, Sissel Dalsgaard Thomsen | Cast: Cornelius Won Riedel-Clausen (Carl), Bodil Jørgensen (Karen), Bjarne Henriksen (Hans), ea | Time to play: 103 minutes | Year: 2023
Carl grows up in an agricultural world filled with blue overalls, red brick buildings, and meals of potatoes, vegetables, and meat. For most young adults, the Danish countryside would be a stifling environment, but even more so for adoptee Carl, who desperately longs to connect with the Korean motherland. where the recent return to seoul took place in the country of origin, it is still more artistic the silent migration with both feet in the danish mud. Together they unintentionally form a balanced diptych on alienation.
As the blended family sits on the couch watching a news story about South Koreans reuniting with their relatives in North Korea, Mom gives Carl a sidelong glance. She senses in her son, who is secretly reviewing his adoption papers and finding it difficult to connect with her peers, a struggle that seems to be getting more intense and is opening up old wounds in her.
Unable to express their love for their son, well-meaning Karen and Hans turn to materialistic pursuits. The talks are about buying a new tractor rather than feelings, though director Malene Choi barely gives her characters a chance to vent. Effusion attempts are abruptly interrupted with a cut to the next scene or the slamming of the door. It creates an intriguing tension, with Choi not being quick to reveal the reason Karen and Hans adopted Carl at the time.
Choi lets entrenched racism surface several times, for example when drunken Uncle Peter blurts out during a family reunion that Carl should return to his own country. When Carl confronts his father about his inaction during the incident, Hans replies that Carl is old enough to defend himself against him. A rare confrontation between father and son that gets quite a tail later in the movie.
However, the subtler images of a lost Carl surrounded by expressions of Danish nationalism are the most compelling. A visit to a Chinese restaurant for Carl’s birthday makes the family’s cultural divide painfully clear. As Karen and Hans refresh themselves at the buffet, Carl is visibly upset at the lack of a more meaningful relationship to his East Asian heritage, but doesn’t speak.
The mechanical efficiency of agricultural vehicles on the farm contrasts sharply with the complexity of the emotions that circulate. At the kitchen table, the loss of a cow proves easier to discuss than Carl’s feeling of being uprooted and old grief with his depressed foster mother. When Carl informs her that he only wants to go to Korea with the travel coupon he received for her birthday, their relationship inadvertently becomes strained. When Carl’s takeover of the farm also gains momentum, his identity crisis is complete.
Cornelius Won Riedel-Clausen convinces with his dry and controlled performance and, with small interventions, Choi creates just enough tension around Carl to keep the quiet drama sharp; a rap song that breaks styles, the image that is turned upside down. Along with a mysterious meteorite, ghosts, nocturnal images of a fireball, and a bending of time and space that the silent migration adding an intriguing touch of magical realism, they turn the search for Carl into a peculiar journey.