Baseball Girl 야구소녀 (2019) - South Korea
Reviewed by Andrew CHAN (Film Critics Circle of Australia) as part of Korean Film Festival in Australia 2020 coverage
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Fresh from “Itaewon Class” fame, young actress Lee Joo-young is the main attraction in the coming of age and gender breaking the glass ceiling sports drama in “Baseball Girl”. Director Choi Yun-tae smartly immerse the audience into a relevant topic and challenges the audience and characters to exceed their own shortcomings and ultimately follow their dreams. There are many aspects that makes “Baseball Girl” a satisfying emotional tale, including the various against the odds moments, the tense “try out” and the sheer factor of Lee Joo-young’s strong portrayal of the lead character, giving the inspiring story an excellent emotional arc.
Lee Joo-young is absolutely pitch perfect as the young aspiring baseball girl who strives to become a professional player in a sport dominated by male counterparts. There are no rules excluding female from becoming professionals in Korea and it is precisely through this vision, we get a young, determined and courageous sportsperson going against all odds to turn her weakness to strength and eventually overcoming the odds and challenges thrown at her. Kim Jong-Soo plays the mentor and coach who himself is dealing with the career disappointment of never reaching his own goal of being a professional baseball player. It is through Lee, that Kim manages to find the deeper fight within himself and it is ultimately his belief in her ability that made the difference. The mother played wonderfully by Yum Hye-Ran shows the contrast of reality and dreams. Her reluctance to support her daughter pursue for her dreams is entirely understandable given the family situation and her own husband years of failure to achieve his own. Song Young-Kyu is equally excellent in a small role as the father who understands the struggles that her daughter is facing.
All in all, “Baseball Girl” is a great way to open this year’s Korean Film Festival in Australia with relevant gender, glass ceiling struggles and inspiring themes. Director Choi Yun-tae manages to pace the film perfectly by balancing emotional core with wonderful performance all-round. Rising talent Lee Joo-young sports the same look as her strong performance in “Itaewon Class” and makes the role of a true baseball player her own with ease and strength. Sometimes, we need a moment of inspiration to reawaken our own pursue of our dreams.
I rated it 8/10