PARIS: After filming in France with Catherine Deneuve, the Japanese Kore-eda puts down his suitcases in South Korea and enlists the star Song Kang-ho for “Les bonne étoiles”, a reflection on adoption and family ties.
In theaters on Wednesday, the film won the best actor award for Song Kang-ho, the father of “Parasite”, three years after the film’s worldwide success.
“I am aware that having such a prestigious cast and having worked with a technical team that brings together the best technicians in the country can make Korean directors probably a little jealous,” the director told AFP. Cannes, where the film was in competition at the last festival.
As in “A family affair”, Palme d’or 2018, Kore-eda imagined beings meeting by chance and recreating a family, this time around a baby abandoned in a box where mothers can leave their new born. A device that exists in Korea and Japan, which the director discovered about ten years ago.
The opportunity to wonder about blood ties, the aftermath of abandonment, the pain of separations… Subjects that are dear to this explorer of family ties.
For this film, “I met many people, people abandoned in baby boxes, I visited orphanages… The question that haunted them: did their life have a value, did that he had done well to come into the world?” says Kore-eda, who wanted to bring “a different look” to women who abandon their children.
Song Kang-ho plays a debt-ridden man who discovers the abandoned baby and volunteers to find him a new family, in exchange for money.
– “Making family” –
Around him gravitates Dong So, who helps him in the “transaction”, and the young mother, whose motivations remain opaque for a long time.
The sale of the baby will turn into a road movie between Busan and Seoul, in a decrepit van. The passenger compartment will be the scene of connections between the characters.
“Each one has experienced a situation of rejection in their family of origin and finds themselves making families at the start in a rather artificial way”, develops the director.
The film brings together several South Korean stars on screen: in addition to Song Kang-ho, Bae Doo-na (“Cloud Atlas”), Gang Dong-won (“Peninsula”) and K-Pop star Lee Ji- eun, IU at the scene. She had previously received rave reviews for her role in the television series “My Mister” (2018), where she played a young woman heavily in debt. It was his performance that caught Kore-eda’s eye.
“What motivated me at the start was not so much to shoot in Korea but to have met Korean actors. Often, projects are born from an encounter with someone. In this case, I really wanted to shoot with them”, says the director.
Song Kang-ho expected “meticulous and calculated” acting direction from Kore-eda. “But he really respected us and brought out our emotions in a way that was really free, benevolent and inexhaustible,” he said in early May in Seoul.