Original title: Gajokeui Tansaeng
: 7.1 179 votes
Plot: A new type of extended family comes to life in Kim Tae-yong's Family Ties, a triumph of witty insight and restrained humour. After a noteworthy debut as co-director of Whispering Corridors II: Memento Mori, Kim sharpens his focus on South Korean society and navigates the agitated sea of dysfunctional families whose bonds, born out of random coincidence or lives lived together, are as strong - and as complicated - as blood relations. Cleverly structured and tightly composed, the script unfolds around three different episodes that unexpectedly come together in an explosive, almost surreal finale.
Mira (Moon So-ri) is a shy, single woman who runs a small restaurant and tends her plants with love and care. Her life is thrown into mayhem when her brother Hyungchul (Uhm Tae-woong), shows up out of the blue after five years' absence, some of them spent in jail. Hyung-chul not only settles down at Mira's place but is soon joined by his new wife, Mu-shin (Goh Doo-shim), a much older woman who smokes like a chimney - and Mira's a non-smoker. As if the house wasn't crowded enough, Mu-shin's young stepdaughter knocks at Mira's door one fine day, and moves in.
The film's second part centres on Sunkyung (Kong Hyo-jin), who discovers that her mother - with whom she has a terribly difficult relationship - is seriously ill. Unhappy about her life, Sun-kyung decides to leave the country, but her plan is disrupted by her mother's death and by the presence of Kyung-suk (Bong Tae-kyu), her half-brother.
Like threads neatly woven into the fine tapestry of a vivid family portrait, the intertwined lives of these characters come together years later in the third section of the film. Kim's brilliant direction guides his ensemble cast - and, in particular, the performances of Goh and superstar Moon - toward a rare excellence. He thus composes the engaging essence of his story into a charming waltz of perfectly believable characters, present onscreen with all their body and soul.