Escaping to Vancouver

‘The Darling’ still

‘The Darling’ film review

By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist


Earlier this year, we had the film Oh Lucy! which shows a woman from Japan going to California, although it was surprisingly about suicide. Now we have The Darling, a local BC film that was in the Vancouver International Film Festival this year, where we see a foreigner visiting Vancouver.

The story follows Lee Sun-hwa (Jang Jieun), who is in Vancouver filming a movie in the summer of 2017. She stays with her sister, who lives in the city with her husband. When she is not filming, she explores the many tourist attractions in Vancouver and has conversations with the locals about their cultural differences, including a server she befriends named Isabelle.

The film has a French New Wave style to it, being shown in black and white, with a notebook showing what day it is in between scenes. The film is split into days of Sun-hwa’s trip. Most of them have one-shot takes of Sun-hwa going around an area or having a very long conversation. Sun-hwa was based on a character in Anton Chekhov’s stories and the title of the film is named after another of Chekhov’s stories of the same name. Some of the topics that she talks about with the locals are feminism, temples, and getting a job.

The one-take scenes cause the pacing of the film to be very slow, and it takes a while before something happens and we learn more about Sun-hwa. Part of the movie was filmed in Coquitlam—during the scene when Sun-hwa sees Isabelle filming something for an assignment in the hills of Coquitlam, you can recognize the power lines.

Originally, during the first screening of the film at VIFF there was going to be a Q&A with the director of the film, Lee Seung-Yup, and Jang. Instead, Jang was in the audience watching the film.

After the screening I asked her a few questions, such as what was the most interesting thing that she’s seen in Vancouver and whether she was similar to her character in the film. She answered that she likes the beer in the area and she does drink it in the film. While Sun-hwa is similar to herself in some ways, Jang said the character is also different because Sun-hwa is older than Jang herself.

The Darling opens in limited release soon.