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TIFF 2014 Review: In Her Place

If a single word were used to describe Canadian director Albert Shin’s work In Her Place, it would be ‘unsettling’.

The film, shot on location in rural South Korea, is about a childless city couple trying to arrange a secret adoption from a family on a farm, and specifically, adopting a young girl. The course of adoption does not run smoothly though, and many complications are encountered, especially when the father of the baby reemerges into the life of the young soon-to-be mother.

Going back to the idea of unsettling, the characters are not given names, and as we spend time viewing the situations differently from the point-of-view of the lead characters, Shin’s direction actively takes on new perspectives, as we go from wider shots to forced close-ups, revealing an almost debilitating sense of intimacy without having to rely on Xavier Dolan-like tricks of shrinking and expanding the aspect ratios.

In fact, Shin’s deft direction remains a strength throughout In Her Place, as the focus remains steady throughout the changes in perspective, and the rendering of the farm greatly adds to just how unsettling the experience is becoming.

If two more words were used to describe the film, they would be ‘look closer’. The casual viewer will try to look solely to the larger frame of In Her Place. The dedicated and patient filmgoer, the one that can get past the unsettling nature, and truly, look closer, may have come to the right place.

[star v=3]