Oct 1, 2023
Minkyu Kang, Christina Yoon
Tiffany Chu, Kim Tae-woo, Kyung Hong
All adopted children agonise over one question that picks at a wound that never quite heals. Why did my birth parents give me up? The most loving of adoptive parents offer familiar comfort - they were chosen whilst others had to take the children they were given. Although effective it soon wears thin as a child usually needs to know why, and to meet the people that brought them into the world. Directed by Christina Yoon this film explores the fallout when that child becomes an adult and starts asking questions.
Leah (Tiffany Chu) was adopted and raised in America but born in Korea. She returns to the land of her birth to search for her birth mother. Her first stop at the adoption agency hits the proverbial brick wall. They refuse to supply details without the consent of her birth parents. Leah seems to be thwarted but then takes advantage of a lapse in security. She gets the documents translated and sets off to discover the truth behind her adoption.
Motherland is a well constructed piece and accurately traces the emotional wreckage that adoption leaves in its wake. It is fundamentally an act of kindness; when people can’t cope with parenthood they decide to give a child the life they deserve. That is the theory, but the reality is often different to the idealistic vision in the adoptee's mind. Some stones are best left unturned, but Leah’s actions are perfectly natural for someone who doesn’t know who she is or where she comes from. There is a delicate balance between dealing with the consequences or just leaving the past behind. Ignorance is bliss but only for those who can afford it. Each scene is sparse and economical in its execution. Clean cinematography frames Tiffany Chu in perfect light and shade. A heart rending tale told with brutal honesty.