TAKE ME HOME (2020)
Director: Jay Han
Run time: 1h 39m
Cannes Marché du Film, 26 June 2020
When a mother dies in a car accident, complications over her child’s future exposes a blind spot in Korea’s adoption system
Not to be confused with the 2019 Korean thriller Bring Me Home, this film is an advocacy feature that does a quite brilliant job of building towards its final point.
LGBT rights in Korea is a more muted discussion than what you could expect in the West, but there has been several films in recent years to address the topic, most notably the absolutely superb A Girl at My Door (2014).
The adoption rights of same sex couples are unpacked in Jay Han’s emotional family drama that feels like an important piece of work around such issues.
Eunsu (Woo Mi-Hwa) and Yewon (Lee Yeon) are a same-sex couple living a happy, if secretive, life together. The idea of them as either roommates or cousins is designed to avoid suspicion (“People will see,” says Eunsu as Yewon attempts to hold her hand on the street).
This relative bliss is rocked when Eunsu and her sister Eunhye are in an horrific car accident, leaving Eunsu in a wheelchair but Eunhye dead.
When Yewon arrives at the hospital she is unable to visit Eunsu’s bedside on account of not being considered family, but in the waiting room she meets Eunhye’s young daughter Sumin.
Unaware that her mother is already dead, Sumin and Yewon bond before the extend of the tragedy has been fully realised.
Eunsu is left paralysed below the waist, for at least several years, but with Sumin a single child, the three return home as a new family dynamic.
When Sumin learns of her mother’s passing, Eunsu and Yewon must help put her life back together again, but Sumin runs home and even begs to be in heaven with her mother.
As she begins to get over her tragedy, Sumin realises that she has inherited a new family that has a lot to offer. While Eunsu is wheelchair-bound and struggling to cope with her loss and pain, she still has Yewon – a young and fun new carer.
With this new dynamic working so well, they decide to adopt Sumin and start what they hope will be a straightforward adoption process. As it proves anything but, they begin to realise that while so much progress has been made on LGBT rights in Korea, there are still plenty of laws and policies which predates this progress.
There is plenty of power in this film and it should be watched with close attention by a local audience. The final scene packs a serious punch and fades to black with a message of what persists in Korea “still, in 2020”, suggesting this film has the thrust to change minds and motivate policy evolution.