See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

My Beautiful Mari

Posted By on Wed, Apr 6, 2005 at 12:00 AM

This Korean animated production is a mostly low-key and bittersweet story of childhood fears and fantasies. Twelve-year-old Namoo lives with his grandmother and widowed mother, and his only friends are chubby schoolmate Jun-ho and his cat Yeo. Namoo is an introspective kid familiar with disappointment; “Things go away too soon,” he says, thinking of his late father and the fact that his pal Jun-ho is about to move to Seoul. To escape, he takes refuge in a fantasyland in the sky inhabited by a giant dog and an elusive sprite named Mari. Fantasy and reality merge when Namoo learns that he can share his trips into the sky with Jun-ho.

This may sound like kiddie fare, but director Seong-kang Lee’s visuals are subtle and playful, a combination of realism and Asian kitsch, and his depiction of adolescent awkwardness is insightful. Although there’s a contrast between the mundane earthbound scenes and the freewheeling sequences with Mari, the style is consistently muted, like a dozy daydream.

Unfortunately, the fantasy sequences don’t amount to much; it’s clear that Namoo is ripe for escapist adventures, but his time in cloudland is spent drifting around and pursuing the mysterious Mari with no developing dangers or complications. There are no revelations, and how this dream world reflects or fulfills his earthly longings isn’t clear. Mari works best as a colorful mood piece, capturing that time in one’s life when it may seem as though anything’s possible. And though it’s a slight story, it does manage to conjure a lingering sadness.

 

In Korean with English subtitles. Showing at 4 p.m., Sunday, April 10, at the Detroit Film Theatre (inside the DIA, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-3237).

Richard C. Walls writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

Tags:

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

More by Richard C. Walls

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit