A Distant Place Review: BFI Flare Film

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A Distant Place

Release: 2021-03-18Genre: DramaDuration: 119 minsBudget: $ 0

A sheep farmer whose remote and quiet life is disturbed by the arrival of both his lover and his twin sister.

A Distant Place

Release: 2021-03-18Genre: DramaDuration: 119 minsBudget: $ 0

A sheep farmer whose remote and quiet life is disturbed by the arrival of both his lover and his twin sister.

A Distant Place: A Visually Stunning Film about Love and Bigotry

Visually ravishing and exquisitely detailed, A Distant Place is a film that delves into the depths of a profound and beautiful love story, while also exposing the horrors of societal bigotry. It is often the case that the most impactful films are those that slowly build emotions, and this can certainly be said for A Distant Place. The film takes a stripped-back approach, with writer/director Park Kun-young opting for awe-inspiring aesthetics and a layered screenplay instead of relying on obvious or loud emotional displays. While Park may occasionally juggle too many plot points, resulting in a scattered narrative, the film’s romantic undertones, situated amidst homophobia, are still deeply moving.

A Delicate Balance of Relationships

The story revolves around Jin Woo (Kang Gil-woo), who lives a quiet life with his young daughter Seol (Kim Si-ha) on a ranch owned by Joong Man (Ki Joo-bong) and his family. Jin Woo’s seemingly idyllic existence takes an unexpected turn when his long-term partner, Hyun Min (Hong Kyung), arrives. The couple’s dream of living together with Seol becomes tangible, but complications arise with the arrival of Jin Woo’s twin sister, Eun Young (Lee Sang-hee), who is Seol’s biological mother. Park dedicates ample time to exploring the complexities of these characters and their relationships in A Distant Place.

The love between Jin Woo and Hyun Min is simply gorgeous, with their deep affection for each other evident from the moment they reunite and embrace. The screenplay skillfully blends humor and charm, creating an impressive subtext that relies as much on unspoken words as it does on dialogue itself. However, the film does have its flaws. The abundance of plot points can feel overwhelming at times, and while Park devotes sufficient time to each one, they ultimately feel underdeveloped. Despite this, the most robust and well-explored aspect of the film is the relationship between Jin Woo and Hyun Min, which is heartwarming and conveys the resonance of homophobia within society.

The Subtle and Nuanced Portrayal of Homophobia

A Distant Place impressively embeds the theme of homophobia throughout the narrative. The inclusion is subtle and nuanced, revealing itself when Eun Young effectively outs the two men in front of the other villagers. Initially accepted with smiles and jokes when they were perceived as just friends, Jin Woo and Hyun Min face rejection once their romantic relationship becomes public knowledge. This discrimination manifests in whispered discussions behind their backs and judgmental glances, demonstrating that homophobic abuse can be subtle rather than overt. However, the impact of this discrimination is by no means diminished. In a powerful scene, the film highlights how it affects only those on the receiving end, as Jin Woo and Hyun Min engage in a heated argument about the discrimination that follows them everywhere, from the bustling cities to the seemingly tranquil countryside.

A Cinematic Masterpiece of Emotional Connection

A Distant Place may occasionally stumble in terms of narrative cohesiveness and its subdued nature, but it ultimately strikes a deep emotional chord. The expert cinematography by Jung-hoon Yang captures the characters within the idyllic surroundings, finding beauty in silhouettes hugging by a serene lake or danger as a snowstorm ravages a field. The film also takes inspiration from the works of Ozu, exploring everyday family moments and hinting at hidden feelings and secrets beneath the surface. However, the burning passion and longing within the characters ensure that these secrets cannot remain concealed for long. With a glimmer of hope, Park suggests that embracing this freedom is vital in striving for a better and more accepting future.


A Distant Place is a visually stunning and emotionally captivating film that confronts the complexities of love and bigotry. While it may occasionally falter in its narrative execution, the film’s ability to engage audiences on a human level is undeniable. Through its delicate portrayal of relationships and its exploration of the profound impact of homophobia, A Distant Place encourages viewers to reflect on the importance of acceptance and the fight for a more inclusive society.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can the film be considered a breakthrough in LGBTQ+ cinema?

A Distant Place certainly contributes to the ongoing development of LGBTQ+ cinema by portraying queer relationships with depth, tenderness, and authenticity. While it may not be a groundbreaking film in terms of overall LGBTQ+ representation, it effectively sheds light on the challenges faced by queer individuals and their quest for acceptance.

2. How does A Distant Place compare to other films addressing similar themes?

A Distant Place stands out due to its compelling visual style and its ability to evoke strong emotions through nuanced storytelling. While other films may also explore LGBTQ+ themes and the impact of societal prejudice, it is the film’s attention to aesthetics and its emotional resonance that sets it apart.

3. Is the inclusion of multiple plot points a strength or weakness of the film?

The inclusion of multiple plot points in A Distant Place has its merits and flaws. On one hand, it adds complexity and depth to the narrative, allowing for a more robust exploration of various relationships. On the other hand, some plot points may feel underdeveloped due to the limited screen time allocated to each one. However, the central relationship between Jin Woo and Hyun Min remains the film’s most powerful and well-developed aspect.

4. How does A Distant Place depict the importance of family?

A Distant Place emphasizes the significance of familial bonds and the impact they have on individuals’ lives. The film portrays a range of familial relationships, from the unconventional, loving family unit formed by Jin Woo, Seol, and Joong Man, to the complexities of Jin Woo’s relationship with his twin sister Eun Young. Through these dynamics, the film highlights the role of family in shaping identity and finding solace amidst societal prejudice.

5. Does A Distant Place offer hope for a more accepting future?

A Distant Place concludes with a touch of hope, suggesting that embracing one’s true self and pursuing a more open and accepting society is essential. Despite the challenges faced by the characters, the film ultimately encourages viewers to envision a future where love, understanding, and acceptance triumph over bigotry and discrimination.