A Wing and a Prayer (Dong-e beonjjeog seoe beonjjeog) seen for the London Korean Film Festival 2023
Unemployed friends and flatmates Seol-hee and Hwa-jeong (Yeo Seol-hee and Woo Hwa-jeong, whose homonymous characters are implicitly not unlike themselves) travel on a whim from Seoul to coastal Donghae City as they both await the outcomes of separate job interviews. After their plan to see in the sunrise goes awry, these two 25-year-olds fall out with each other and fall in with new local friends – respectively a suicidal woman and a bullied schoolgirl – whose problems reflect their own.
As the two tourists negotiate the littoral, liminal space between childhood and adulthood, motifs recur of abandoned mirrors and missing parrots, both symbols of the strange echoes and symmetries that mark Seol-hee and Hwa-jeong’s parallel journeys. The English title A Wing and a Prayer captures both the precarity of these characters’ situation, and the provisional, arbitrary-seeming nature of a narrative which tracks the meandering disorientation of its two heroines.
Writer/director/DP/editor Lee Kwang-kuk’s film is somehow simultaneously naturalistic and oneiric, casual and contrived, as it follows these two women unsure of what the future holds or where their experiences fit in the grander scheme of things. It is a lovely portrait of youth both lost, and finding themselves through flashes of solidarity.
strap: Lee Kwang-kuk’s day-tripping drama follows two lost young women finding themselves on a trip to the sea
© Anton Bitel