Abigail Harm Is an Experiment in Space, Narrative and Physical
Expanding upon only the best of Terrence Malick, Lee Isaac Chung's modern-day retelling of a Korean fairy tale is an experiment in space, narrative and physical. These both play out in Amanda Plummer's highly emotive performance, who exudes more emotion in a wistful sideways glance than most actresses do over their entire careers. The whisper-thin story focuses on Abigail (Plummer), an introvert who has the incredibly noble profession of reading to the blind. But her loneliness is so pervasive that it goes unspoken, the depths revealed as the film goes on—she has no interactions with neighbors, and her father, the only close relationship in her life, is dying of cancer. In short, she exists in a way many unmarried middle-aged women in this country do: She has become invisible to others. So, when she assists (what appears to be) a wounded man, he rewards her with a chance of true love: steal the cloak of another mystical being so that he cannot return home. ("You'll be the only thing he has," he creepily assures her.) She follows the stranger's instructions, but Abigail's relationship with her new companion (Tetsuo Kuramochi) proves more complicated than what she was told. Their comfort with each other waxes and wanes, and goes beyond a simple misunderstood crush. Their mutual silences allows the viewer to meditate about what affection truly is—questions that would've otherwise been spelled out (and answered) by a less thoughtful director. It will certainly be difficult viewing for the emotionally minute.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.