The Quiet Family was the directorial debut of Kim Jee-woon who now has an impressive back-catalogue of films including A Bittersweet Life, and A Tale of Two Sisters. This would be the first DVD I would import from South Korea. It was back in the early 2000’s and I was in high school. I have no idea why I was attracted to this film but I’m grateful I bought it because it allowed me to see that South Korea is a region brimming with brilliant ideas and talent and just as the Korean wave was really gaining momentum. I also got two pretty cool postcards with the DVD but that’s neither here nor there…
When Kang Tae-Gu (Park In-hwan) loses his job in Seoul the Kang family move to an old mountain cottage and convert it into an inn despite knowing nothing about the lodging business. With the entire family pitching in to help including mother (Na Moon-hee), delinquent son Yeong-min (Song Kang-ho), two daughters Mi-su (Lee Yoon-sung) and Mi-Na (Ko Ho-kyeong) and uncle Chang-ku (Choi Min-sik) there is a lot of anticipation for their first guest. It takes some time but eventually a strange man arrives and asks for a room. The next morning that man is found dead having committed suicide. The family panic at first but the father insists that they hide the corpse to prevent a bad reputation building. Unfortunately this is just the first incident which will leave many corpses who strewn around the inn.
This is a black comedy of the finest calibre. Everything from acting to direction is carefully moderated with nothing wasted.
One can detect an exacting sense of control on the part of Kim Jee-woon in every camera movement and scene set-up. The initial roving camera maps out the inn during the opening credit sequence then observes the hilarity that ensues when characters blunder around the location. It is this control that would later surface in the even more impressive film A Tale of Two Sisters.