This review references sexual assault. Reader discretion advised.
The second film I’m reviewing from the Women’s Voices Shorts Programme is Oh Su-yeon. Running at 27 minutes, A Blind Alley follows school friends Moonyoung and Eunjae, after Moonyoung suffers a traumatic incident and becomes withdrawn. She hides it from Eunjae, refusing to confide in her for most of the film. This short does an excellent job at portraying trauma, friendship and sexuality. The result is not always an easy watch, but it was refreshing to see these topics explored on-screen in a raw and honest way.
A Blind Alley opens with Moonyoung walking home from school alone, when she is suddenly approached by a stranger who gropes her breasts and runs off, leaving her shaken up. We never learn who this man was or why he decided to do it, so we as an audience are just as angry as Moonyoung. He is never brought to justice and gets to go about his day whilst she deals with the aftermath and the trauma. I loved the choice to never reveal the man’s identity, as this forces us to feel the pain and frustrations of the victim, and makes us think about the way society treats sexual assault.
Following this incident, Moonyoung refuses to walk down the alley again, opting for the longer route to and from school. This confuses Eunjae, who soon becomes frustrated that her best friend is keeping something from her. Lead actresses Oh Woori and Lee Haeun are fantastic together, and their on-screen friendship feels so genuine. I spent a lot of the film wanting Moonyoung to finally confide, and seek comfort from her closest friend. We don’t hear much from the other characters, so the friendship between these two girls is central to the narrative and feels engaging throughout.
Visually, A Blind Alley feels minimalistic and devoid of bright colours and when teamed with Moonyoung’s trauma, it makes the film an incredibly depressing place to be. This is far from a negative thing though, as it really transports you to their world and puts audiences in an uncomfortable, yet important position. Moonyoung starts questioning a lot of things about her life, including her sexual orientation, and it’s a very dark place for her. She is confused and isolated, especially when the other girls at school make crude comments about a lesbian student. This conservative and judgemental environment is not a pleasant place to be for Moonyoung, and the film’s style reflects this perfectly.
Overall A Blind Alley is an unapologetic and honest film that refuses to ignore important societal issues. It is a film about women’s issues but targeted at a much wider audience, encouraging them to wake up and understand. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to watch this short and would encourage all of you to seek it out.