29th Philadelphia Film Festival: ‘The House Of Us’ Reviewed

by Rachel Bellwoar

Written and Directed by Yoon Ga-eun

Before we meet Hana’s parents, we hear them. While her older brother, Chan (Ahn Ji-Ho), is upset by their fighting, too, Hana (Kim Na-Yeon) is the only one who still sees a point in trying to get them to eat meals together or go on a family trip.

Hana runs into Yoo-mi (Kim Si-Ah) and her little sister, Yoo-Jin (Joo Ye-Rim), at the grocery store. Like Hana, their parents leave them on their own a lot, though, even more alarmingly, you never see them with adult supervision at all.

The House of Us isn’t fancy. When Hana looks back wistfully at another family it’s not hard to read between the lines, but it’s exactly that plainness that speaks to this film’s potency. Ga-eun doesn’t feel the need to add flourishes to the way children think. The mechanizations they come up with on their own are enough, because while it might not always be complicated there’s an emotional honesty to everything they do.

The performances by all three child actors are raw and unaffected. In the same way Hana believes she can prevent her parents from getting a divorce, Yoo-Mi and Yoo-jin are trying to avoid another move (they’ve already been through six or seven). Unfortunately, their efforts aren’t always rewarded or even noticed (like when the girls prank call Hana’s father’s mistress).

Real life might not always bend to the girls’ will, but audiences will. If you love the found family energy of Pose or the joy of The Florida Project, then you’ll love The House of Us.

The 29th Philadelphia Film Fesitval runs from October 23rd to November 2nd. Click here for the full program.

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