The unusual title of this introspective and well-executed film refers to the present continuous tense in English. For the film’s main character Min-ah - a high school girl who has spent much of her youth in the hospital - the present may hold a deeper meaning than for most of us. After all, living with a potentially fatal disease can sharpen your appreciation for the ordinary days that pass before you. Min-ah’s single mother, who has already lost a husband, has also learned to focus her attention on the present, rather than on a future that is struck through with uncertainty.
With her debut film, young director Lee Eon-hee has created a simple, moving story as well as one of Korean cinema’s most vivid mother-daughter relationships ever. Im Su-jung - virtually everyone’s choice for the best new actress of 2003 - plays Min-ah with a convincing mixture of reclusiveness and vulnerability. When a photographer (played by popular actor Kim Rae-won) moves into the apartment below hers, she is unsure what to do when he tries to win over her friendship.
Meanwhile the supremely talented veteran actress Lee Mi-sook plays Min-ah’s mother with a cool, hip demeanor that hides the concern she feels underneath. The bond between mother and daughter is touching but also unconventional by Korean standards. Mi-sook even refers to her mother by first name, which is virtually unheard of in Korea.
Directed with confidence and a clear-eyed honesty, ...ing manages to be both very sad and very entertaining at the same time. It successfully captures a sense of what it feels like to be on the inside of an everyday tragedy, such as you might find in a neighboring home. At the same time, the film’s warmth and humor help the viewer to appreciate the joy and poignancy of the present.