NYAFF 2021: Our Review of ‘The Prayer’

NYAFF 2021: Our Review of ‘The Prayer’

Can a robot have a soul? That’s the question posted by Korean director Min Kyu-dong in his latest film The Prayer.

Set in the near future, The Prayer tells the story of a young woman (Lee Yoo-young) who has wasted the last decade of her life taking care of her comatose mother. Thankfully she hasn’t had to do it alone. She has taken advantage of technological advances and had a robot duplicate of herself made to act as a full time nurse that never leaves her mother’s side. The stress gets to her, however. As the young woman grows suicidal the robot nurse becomes concerned. And she finds herself stuck trying to solve a philosophical problem. One that not even a local nun (Ye Soo-jung) can help her find an answer.

The Prayer starts slowly, so slow that some may be tempted to stop watching it. They shouldn’t however, because the slow start helps build the background of the story and give it more depth. The movie is based around Min Kyu-dong’s SF8 episode of the same name. That, then, is based on the short story by Kim Hey-Jin. Like both, the plot here will undoubtedly spark a bit of debate afterwards. Lee plays her dual roles remarkably well, and so differently that at first you have a hard time recognizing that she’s playing both leads.  The beautiful cinematography also has a bleakness to it that gives it a Blade Runner type of feel, which is really a movie that poses a similar question about the lives of artificial beings.

While it is too early to say, The Prayer may end up being one of the stand-out films at the New York Asian Film Festival. It’s well worth the time watching, especially for the conversation that will come afterwards.



  • Release Date: 8/13/2021
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While Roderick has only been writing movie reviews for a relatively short time, he's been a fan of film for as long as he can remember. It's a love affair that started when he saw Star Wars at a drive-in theatre in Kitchener when he was four years old. In the past decade he's fulfilled his dream of interviewing celebrities, attending red carpets events at festivals such as TIFF and writing reviews for outlets such as Realstylenetwork.com. He's always on the hunt for the next big thing to hit the screen.
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