New York Asian Film Festival ’18: Our Review of ‘Microhabitat’

New York Asian Film Festival ’18: Our Review of ‘Microhabitat’

Miso (Esom) faces a New Year. And with that come new, higher prices for everything, including cigarettes and rent. She chooses what is borderline offensive. She keeps her smoking habit and other vices while looking her her former mates for couch surfing purposes.

What follows is a typical premise with director Jeon Go-woon’s execution as its saving grace. She and we discovers that her five mates ended up with different fates. What they all have in common though is their own unique domestic horror show.

Portraying Miso’s life also shows more nuance than the millennial slacker archetype that some might assume she is. She has skills and intelligence. She’s a professional housekeeper and she helps her friends out in that regard, literally. If only she can help herself.

Microhabitat‘s funniest sequences involve her romantic misadventures. Miso has a boyfriend, (Ahn Jae-hong) who has opinions about her staying over at her male friends’ places. Turns out that he’s right, that that male friend Rok-i (Choi Duk-moon) wants to physically trap her.

The movie takes us from one problematic friend after another. But it knows how to ground the story with some familiar places. Miso loves her bar. And what’s great about these scenes is how is doesn’t play her alcohol habit over the top.

And Esom’s performance helps in that regard. She makes every scene count, connecting well with actors that she spends limited time with. She also provides contrasts with those characters, even with a real estate agent who takes her to Seoul’s worst apartments.

The film fleshes out each character, which is, again, important as it shows us how tenuous relationships are. That precariousness also applies to what it takes to live in a big expensive city. There’s a tenderness here that is rare in most dramedies.

  • Release Date: 7/10/2018
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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