Take Care of my Cat – quick hit review

// 25 June 2008

Take Care of My Cat DVD coverLast night I saw an excellent film, Take Care of My Cat, the first feature-length production by Korean director Jae-eun Jeong.

It’s a coming-of-age movie set in Inchon, Korea, following the lives of five women who were a closely-knit group of friends in school, and now in their early 20s and struggling with issues of growing apart, differing aspirations, problems at home and at work, as well as fundamental differences in their backgrounds.

Taehee is absolutely the centre of the film – she is working, unpaid, at her parents’ spa business, meanwhile looking for all and any opportunities for adventure and escape – passing a recreation centre for seamen handing out leaflets, she tries to sign up as a sailor. Overall it’s one of the most women/girl-focused films I’ve seen in ages.

An interview with the director on the official website reveals some of her intentions:

Q: In a way, these girls are all leaving. Haejoo leaves Inchon for Seoul, making a new home for herself there. Taehee tries to leave home and Jiyoung has nowhere to go. Biryu and Ohnjo have a Chinese mother so their nationalities are ambiguous. Where did you come up with such characters?

A: If the main idea is ‘nomad’ then Taehee is a child who has a home but her heart is not there; Haejoo wants to live in the middle of a cosmopolitan so she lives life as a city nomad; Biryu and Ohnjo always exist as still objects on the street so they place no meaning at home; and Jiyoung is under the pressure of the home but becomes free. The characters were set up in this manner so this is a very configured film. (smiles)

Q: Why a cat?

A: First of all, I personally like cats. Also, it is because cats are neglected over dogs. I believe that Korea is a dog-oriented society. (laughs) I think that cats are a bit taboo. In that way, I thought it would be good to connect cats to 20-year-old girls. I had hoped for the girls to be like cats – flexible, independent, complex, to have the tendency to leave if they are not happy with their ownerÉ However, I do not like humanizing certain aspects of animals as it is often the case in nature documentaries. I dislike stories and tales about dogs such as the dog who finds his way home after being sold to a new owner.

Comments From You

Soirore // Posted 25 June 2008 at 1:46 pm

I hadn’t realised this had been released in the UK and am so glad it has been now.

I saw it years ago on BBC4 and I couldn’t find out much about it. It really is very moving though and has lingered in my mind for ages. I think films about female friendships that are convincing and meaningful are hard to come by in mainstream (ie Hollywood) cinema and Take Care of My Cat is such a refreshing alternative. I might have to check it out again.

Shea // Posted 25 June 2008 at 1:46 pm

“I thought it would be good to connect cats to 20-year-old girls. I had hoped for the girls to be like cats – flexible, independent, complex, to have the tendency to leave if they are not happy with their owner”

I *love* that and I love cats. Cats should be the new feminist symbols, independent, self reliant and not afraid to leave.

Jess McCabe // Posted 25 June 2008 at 2:24 pm

I saw it on DVD – just signed up for one of those services where they post DVDs out to you (lovefilm).

Cara // Posted 25 June 2008 at 2:40 pm

Sounds like a great film, I’ll have a look for it next time I want a DVD.

Totally agree with above comments re: cats :-)

Cazz Blase // Posted 27 June 2008 at 4:49 pm

I love this film, it’s my favourite film ever. I first saw it in late 2002, and spent years trying to get it on video. Of course, now videos are on the way out, I’ll have to re-buy it on DVD when the stop making video players, but that’s by the by. I really like coming of age stories, especially female coming of age stories, some of my other favourites would be, in no particular order, I Capture The Castle, Ghost World, Persopolis, and The Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants, which, coincidentally, are all books which have been adapted for screen (with varying degrees of success…) so I suppose ones I’d like to see adapted, well, successfully so, would be Emily Prager’s ‘Roger Fishbite’, and possibly Alan Warner’s ‘The Sopranos’ but then the beauty of Take Care Of My Cat is that it was written for screen, not adapted, was a debut by a young female director, and featured five really talented actresses and an equally talented cat.

Anne Onne // Posted 27 June 2008 at 6:07 pm

Looks excellent! Another one for my ever-increasing must-see list!

I adore films and stories focusing on female character interaction. I used to wonder why that was, but then when I thought about how much non-romantic interaction between men and women, and women’s relationships are ignored in mainstream media, I wasn’t surprised I always felt something missing!

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