White Mulberry Award for First Time Director Nominee
Voice of Silence
소리도 없이 (Sorido eopsi)
South Korea, 2020, 99’, Korean
Directed by: Hong Eui-jeong
Script: Hong Eui-jeong
Photography (color): Park Jeong-hoon
Editing: Han Mi-yeon
Art Direction: Jeong Min-kyung
Music: Jang Hyuk-jin, Jang Yong-jin
Producers: Lewis Taewan Kim, Kim Hyeong-wook, Choi Mun-seok
Cast: Yoo Ah-in (Tae-in), Yoo Jae-myung (Chang-bok), Moon Seung-ah (Cho-hee), Lee Ga-eun (Moon-ju), Im Kang-seong (Yong-seok), Kim Han-na (Police officer Han-sol)
Date of First Release in Territory: October 15th, 2020
Tae-in and Chang-bok are friends and co-workers who seem, at least in some ways, to perfectly complement each other. The chatty elder man Chang-bok gives Tae-in brotherly advice on life and religion as they work on various odd jobs. Tae-in, for reasons not fully explained in the film, does not talk, but he is reliable and loyal to his friend. The two form an easy camaraderie as they partner on their work: selling eggs, transporting agricultural goods, and disposing of bodies killed by a local criminal organization.
It’s perhaps because of this no-nonsense efficiency that they are asked one day to take on a job that goes beyond their usual remit. A young girl is being held for ransom, and because of some unexpected circumstances, she needs to be held for a day or so until the money can be collected. Chang-bok reluctantly agrees to take the girl, and they bring her to Tae-in’s home in the countryside. By this point, viewers who have seen enough films will know that in the movies, a simple kidnapping job is never resolved simply.
Hong Eui-jeong’s remarkable debut film attracted much critical praise when it opened in Korea in the midst of the pandemic. One telling sign of directorial talent is the ability to precisely control tone. Voice of Silence strikes an unusual tone from the very start, juxtaposing the placidity of its rural setting with the occasional homicide and an assortment of odd characters. There is an understated humor here as well, though it is often buried under several other layers of emotion. The moral universe of the film may be bleak, and few of the people who populate this work are what you would call innocent, but in the course of the narrative there proves to be a crucial difference between the callous and the compassionate.
Critics’ admiration of this film ranges from its cinematic sophistication and its nuanced story to its memorable settings, but particular praise has been heaped on its performances. Over the years, actor Yoo Ah-in has added to his increasingly impressive filmography with acclaimed turns in The Throne (2014), Veteran (2015), Burning (2018), Default (2018), and #Alive (2020), but in this film his silent acting is particularly expressive. He partners well with the veteran character actor Yoo Jae-myung, but his chemistry with the talented child performer Moon Seung-ah is particularly noteworthy. Moon injects a kind of fire into the story, and from the moment she appears, where it will end up is anybody’s guess.
Hong Eui-jeong majored in film at the Korea National University of Arts, and subsequently worked in advertising and music videos. She then enrolled in the London Film School, directing numerous shorts and graduating in 2013. Her short film Habitat starring Byun Hee-bong screened in the Wide Angle section of the Busan International Film Festival in 2018. With her feature debut Voice of Silence (2020), she won many local awards including Best New Director at the Blue Dragon Film Awards and Best Director at the Baeksang Arts Awards.
2020 – Voice of Silence