Hommage (오마주) at Glasgow Film Festival

Hommage still (Frida Runnkvist)

Review by Ira Lapina

3.5 stars

A tribute to all female directors, for it is your time to shine and you should be heard!

Shin Su-won tackles the subject of overlooked female directors in this quiet, yet imaginative film called Hommage. It stars our main character, Ji-wan, who has failed in getting more viewership in her latest film. She deems it her final one but wants to continue. Although jobless, a film archive comes in her time of need (of money) to restore a film that was created by the first female South Korean director. And at first, she does it for money, but it soon becomes something that she wishes to finish, for she, too, sees herself in the first female director: they are both fighting against a patriarchal job.

Hommage still (Frida Runnkvist)

We see immediately that Ji-wan is being forced by not only her husband, but also her son, to quit her job as a director and become a full housewife, which she vehemently disagrees with. But it is not just the patriarchal society that deals a heavy blow, it is also film culture and what it has become. Her son is totally part of this erosion- he states he would rather see The Avengers over his own mother’s boring films. Hommage does not come out as condescending in its message but rather, a gentle yet disappointed sigh.

As she is tasked of restoring a film from a bygone era, it becomes not only a treasure hunt but also an exploration of who she is and what she is trying to prove, not just to herself, but to society. But as she explores the film and the director, she realises that not much has changed in the role of women as directors, they are still fighting hard against an enemy that has long made sure they will stay down.

And we, the audience, know of her plight from the actress’ face, Lee Jung-Eun which is so expressive, even down to her micro-emotions. We always know exactly what she is feeling, and the extra load she is carrying simply because she is a woman. And Shin Su-won shows Ji-wan’s troubles in a way that makes you sympathise with her, such as the metaphor of the overall message in Hommage– the erasure of women in the film industry (or even in any job).The film’s pacing is slow, but it is intentional, because it shows just how slow it is for a woman to progress, even now.