SFF 2018: Review – America Town

America Town opens with a view of a snow covered field strewn with condoms and US dollars. It’s the 1980s and South Korea is still in the aftermath of the Korean War with the bars that were set up to cater for the US soldiers based there.

Local businessmen are keen to make money from the soldiers’ presence and prostitution is high on the list. Meanwhile a boy is making his way in the area longing for greater things than a job in his father’s photo processing shop. He wants to join the scouts, he has feelings for a local prostitute but he also has a side-business in naked photos.The usual mix of defeatist and naive prostitutes find use in the boy’s photography skills which draws him into a dark industry.

This is a very formal, gorgeously photographed measured film but not without realism. The film gives you plenty of time to look at this not so glamorous world. The starkness of the setting is beautifully realised and has charm in its story and leading characters. The subtle shades in the images also match the subtlety of the story.

The importance of politics and history are never far from the surface of Korean films and this one is no exception. It’s a coming of age story of a Korean boy amongst the US bases. While there are lot of still shots with not a lot going on, this film will reward the patient viewer as it slowly reveals its secrets.

Michael Collins


America Town screens on Thursday June 14 and Saturday June 16 at Sydney Film Festival.

Thursday 14th of June, 2018

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