Drawing Paper

Bottom Line: Conventional coming-of-age drama that contains little substance and offers little insight.

Pusan International Film Festival

BUSAN, South Korea -- Director Kim Hee-Sun's graduate project plays out just like that. Neither narratively innovative nor thematically cutting edge, "Drawing Paper" is a competent but ultimately forgettable drama in the vein of the superior "Swing Girls" or "Take Care of My Cat." Kim's girl-focused film is more a missed opportunity than a complete feature.

"Drawing Paper" looks and feels like a debut feature. The HD photography is functional and straightforward, and the performances are respectable given the character sketches the actors must work with. But neither of those is likely to earn the film a theatrical release outside of Korea, if even there. There is limited festival potential here, and relying on the musical aspect of the film would also be misguided, as there isn't enough of it to register, and what's there is weak.

Song-Won (Kang Eun-Bi) is a high school senior who wants to join a band. She and her best friend So-Yi (So Yi) sign up for Magnolia, the school's version of the Go-Gos, with an eye toward entering a college band competition. Also in the band is Soo-Ah (Lee Seol-A), the reserved bassist with a secretive outside life. For a poorly explained reason, they have to work with an all-boy band that includes singer is Dong-Yoon (Kim Dong-Youn), who takes a shine to Song-Won, and bassist Joon-Ki (Kim Jun-Gi), who becomes enamored with Soo-Ah. From here, the story goes exactly where one would expect it to, replete with love triangle, secrets, shame and band disintegration. The film's most notable aspect is the glimpse of what appears to be a David Hasselhoff record cover in the background.

"Drawing Paper's" biggest fault is its lack of illumination: Nothing is ever explained or left for interpretation or inference. What little rationalization there is comes in the form of short speeches that sound as though they are the result of years of personal introspection. Girl power as a relatively new concept in Korea could do with some cinematic exposure, and that's Kim's initial thrust. Sadly, the film devolves into rote trials and tribulations that wind up saying very little about the choices young Korean women are forced to make right now.

A Happy Pictures production
Director-screenwriter: Kim Sun-Hee
Producers: Kim Jae-Joong, Kim Kyung-Jun
\Director of photography: Lee Yong-Hoon
Production designer: Lee Hye-Jin
Music: Bang Jun-Seok
Editors: You Seong-Yup, Min Tae-Young
Song-Won: Kang Eun-Bi
So-Yi: So Yi
Soo-Ah: Lee Seol-A
Eun-Sup: Woo Seung-Min
Joon-Ki: Kim Jun-Gi
Dong-Yoon: Kim Dong-Youn
Ji-Min: Han Su-Yeon

No MPAA rating
Running time -- 93 minutes