Take Care of My Cat
TAKE CARE OF MY CAT tenderly and unsentimentally charts the paths of a quintet of modern South Korean women as they navigate the hazards of young adulthood. While twins Bi-ryu and Ohn-jo (Eun-shi & Eun-joo Lee) cheerfully resign themselves to the diminished expectations and drab realities of bleak Inchon, narcissistic Hae-joo (Yo-won Lee) surrenders to the seductive undertow of office ladder-climbing at a Seoul brokerage. Melancholy Ji-young (Ji-young Ok) desperately staves off an avalanche of big-city bad luck, leaving the charismatic but circumspect Tae-hee (Doo-na Bae) to spiritedly hold the group together even while challenging the family that exploits her. (Amazon.com)
July 6, 2004
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Beautiful story - well-acted
This is a gentle look at the evolution of the friendship among five young women who went to school together. During the opening of the film, we see the five as they appeared in school uniforms – happy together – clowning around taking pictures of themselves as a group. In short order, the film switches to the lives of the five as they are in their early twenties.
We see the beautiful and egocentric Hye-ju as she works for a security firm – knowing that she can only go so far without further education. She prefers to spend her money on clothes and conveniences instead of advancement in her field. She is so taken with what money can get for her that she eventually moves away from the group to Seoul in an ugly apartment but in a higher-class neighborhood.
The twins, Bi-ryu and Ohn-jo, who are eccentric and gossipy young women, seem content with their lives as street vendors. They make their own jewelry to barter and sell, they live with their parents or grandparents - it’s not quite clear in the film - and they are content with each other’s company and the occasional company of their school mates.
Ji-young is a beautiful young woman who lives in abject poverty with her grandparents in a slum of Inchon. Their home is little more than a shack. She is unable to find work, even though she is a talented artist. Her mood is pensive at best and depressed at worst. She longs to go to school to become a textile designer but has no way to acquire the resources to do so.
And finally, Tae-hi is the core of the group. She is living a life that does not suit her. Her father has a hot rock spa where she is forced to work for free. She finds her father to be a bully and her family structure is unbearable. As a volunteer, she types for a poet who has cerebral palsy. He is very fond of her.
Without giving any spoilers, the girls’ relationships evolve over a series of life events for a couple of them and the reactions of the others to these events. The audience is drawn to feel sympathy for Ji-Young and Tae-hi in their situations. One doesn’t feel much sympathy for the twins or for Hye-Ju as their lives provide them a measure of satisfaction.
There are a few fascinating contrivances about the film. First is the use of technology in the girls’ lives. Their communications by text, typing and email are shown on different objects in the rooms where the action is taking place. Second is the use of techno-music as part of the action – it is not played behind as the score, but is integral to the story action. Thirdly, the urban, industrialized environment of Inchon lends a dismal backdrop to the girls’ youthful exuberance.
And finally, there is the contrivance of the cat. Initially, Tae-hi gives the kitten she has found to Hye-ju as a birthday gift. A week later, she gives it back saying she can’t take care of it. Tae-hi and Ji-young take care of the cat throughout most of the movie and it seems as if Ji-young attaches to the kitten (named Titi) most of all. She seems to find a bit of cheer from the kitten in her otherwise poverty-stricken and hopeless existence. By the end of the film, the twins have taken over the care of the kitten while the other girls move on in different directions with their lives.