Directed by Mipo O
NETPAC Award, 2015 Moscow International Film Festival
Official Selection, 2015 Busan International Film Festival
The cliché of a film having no bad guys is especially apt in the powerful BEING GOOD, about young adults learning how to take care of children. A budding teacher played by Kengo Kora (A Story of Yonosuke, SDAFF ’13) watches his elementary school class spin out of control, day in and day out. A solitary mother played by Machiko Ono (Like Father Like Son) is reminded again and again that the only method of parenting she knows is punishment by force. For both, it’s less the kids themselves that tire them out, than their own realization that as caretakers, they’re running out of ideas.
Off the heels of her acclaimed The Light Shines Only There, director Mipo O brings a film of paralyzing empathy, showing with dedicated stillness scenes of emotional and physical hurt that put us in positions of receding power and unbearable incompetence. The ordinariness of the situations, coupled with the wondrously naturalistic child performances, make everyday outbursts feel like the thunderstorms they are.
BEING GOOD is not always an easy watch, but the humanity it needs to know is there, however idealistically, makes it an essential one. It’s an honest, heartfelt portrait of individual parents and educators trying to do the right thing, but through its collection of stories, shows that while being good can sometimes feel like the loneliest task, one should never feel alone in striving for it. –Brian Hu