Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned (2016) – Review
Did you know that I actually had the chance to meet Kang Dang Won in 2016 when one of his films premiered in Hong Kong? I am feeling so guilty for taking that chance for granted since I was too engrossed in his co-star as prior, I have never heard of Kang Dang Won until he surprised me in A Violent Prosecutor and then now, in Vanishing Time.
A fantasy/sci-fi tale of time travelling, Vanishing Time, however is more than that. It is also a story of first love and loss of innocence. The more than 20-year-old gap between Kang and co-star, Shin Eun Soo (who was around 13 years old during the film) might be cringe-worthy to some if both actors didn’t handle it well. Yes, it is enough to make another comfortable – Shin, herself admitted that it was uncomfortable.
But Kang, despite being 35, embodies the innocence, the curiosity and the fear of a young child. This acting professionalism made their age gap more bearable. Plot-wise, I felt that it was necessary too. It is meant to show the loss of innocence and it did exactly that. Shin, herself, this being her first ever acting role, also deserves praise. If Kang embodied Jung Min’s innocence wonderfully, Shin carried Su Rin’s maturity with clarity and delivers an impressive performance. Kang doesn’t overpower Shin, in fact, they compliment each other. The same can be said for young Sung Min, played by Lee Hyo Je, who shares wonderful chemistry with Shin despite being two years younger. True enough, the film’s strength is its characters. Their emotions pierced through.
I would say that this is a refreshing piece of narrative. It’s not unique but it’s deeply refreshing to see. To be able to explore the world of “stopped” time and not only present what life is like but also the struggles of it, was done very well. The effects were also wonderfully made. Perhaps my only problem is the slow burn and the dragged out second half. Also, Sung Min and Su Rin’s own language added depth to the plot to represent this world of their own that reinforces back to the film’s narrative. Wonderful cinematography that sound that also adds back to create an amazing set piece.
Finally, that ending. No, it wasn’t just in her head.
written by: Jianne Soriano