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HomeENTERTAINMENTHOLLYWOOD‘Beyond Utopia’ Review – The Hollywood Reporter

‘Beyond Utopia’ Review – The Hollywood Reporter


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An Incredible real-life geopolitical thriller. It has a very common historical explainer that is attached to it like a Remora. Madeleine Gavin’s documentary Beyond Utopia is so packed with high-stakes tension and nail-biting set-pieces that it’s fairly easy, and probably even ideal, to ignore its clunky structuring and expositional choices.

Beyond Utopia This is primarily a three-pronged story about defection from modern society. North KoreaAs well as the nightmare realities that make it so necessary to defect.

Beyond Utopia

The Bottom Line

An Intimate, real-life thriller about geopolitical issues

Seoul-based Pastor Seungeun Kim He has spent many decades trying to save his own life in order to coordinate and facilitate defections. He A network of ethically-compromised brokers is available North Korea, China, Vietnam, Laos And Thailand, but he’s more than just a guy moving strategic pieces from a distance. Motivated In part, this is due to personal trauma. Pastor Kim’s own participation in these escapes has left him with broken bones and a rap sheet in several countries.

Part Of Pastor Kim’s commitment to this cause has also involved documenting life beyond the demilitarized zone (DMZ) and the particular pathways to escape, contributing to the occasionally mind-boggling footage that Gavin needs to be worked with.

Providing the movie’s breathless spin is the escape of the five-person Ro family — two parents, a grandmother and two small daughters — who have to cross rivers, climb mountains, dodge Communist authorities and wander through darkened rainforests in search of a freedom they aren’t all sure that they want. See?, “utopia” in the documentary’s title is actually North Korea, or at most the version of North Korea that the country’s leaders and propaganda machine have crafted for those trapped within its borders. The Ro Parents might be driven to make their family better, but they may have been immersed in 80+ years of education or indoctrination. North Korea’s heavily programmed education system, grandma and the two kids require a complete readjustment of their worldview.

Finally, there’s Soyeon LeeShe left her son in the care of her mother. North Korea Departing 10 years prior, she now dreamed of a reunion and worries about the future for her family.

There’s an involvement between GavinShe and her crew. Pastor Kim’s work that isn’t really made clear. They’re filming, but at the same time participating in a way that isn’t your typical “We’re following a mariachi team for a year” version of documentary production, and there’s no doubt that a documentary about the making of Beyond Utopia This would be as compelling as Beyond Utopia.

Notes at the beginning of the film explain that the footage comes from a variety of sources — Hyun Seok Kim is the credited cinematographer — but it’s emphasized that the project contains no reenactments. It’s almost refreshing that the aesthetic for most of the footage is “Look, we’re doing the best we can,” shot in suboptimal lighting from disadvantaged positions, with glimpses of danger or atrocities that aren’t always instantly clear. I’m a great appreciator of Matthew Heineman’s (Retrograde) docs, but they tend to leave me wondering how he got his footage — and how he got his footage so darned pretty. With Beyond UtopiaThe footage appears exactly as it should: a film that records information and makes cinematic films.

However They did it. The immediacy of the actions is amazing, especially the sequences with the fleeing family. These sequences are both harrowing, fraught, and sweetly intimate, and sad, at the same time. The Parts that contain elements of espionage will keep viewers on edge, but what impressed me most was watching the grandmother and her children process their first exposure to an outside world. North Korean bubble — reactions that range from unabashed glee to sheer terror to understandable wariness.

The Scenes with Lee They are more visceral and less exciting. She’s mostly answering ominous phone calls. But there’s so much internal conflict that plays out on her face every time she processes new information that her storyline proves equally absorbing, although the intercutting between Lee The escaping family is never completely at peace when it comes time to pacing.

Pastor Kim is the documentary’s unifying force, the sort of hero you can imagine Hollywood Casting a film about a topic and making it look good Mark Wahlberg. He’s so interesting on so many levels that I wish the documentary had delved into a few more of those levels, from the origins of his network of brokers to his own North Korean wife.

InsteadIt was decided that audiences would be given very basic information. “Why North Korea Is Bad” A documentary primer Gavin With mixed results, tries to weave through Beyond Utopia in a way that doesn’t drain the drama from the primary source narratives. The Basic history, narrated without much affect Gavin Her body is dead and lifeless. Several American experts of different kinds give limited background and insight that aren’t bad, but definitely don’t feel like a part of this specific documentary.

Much Better are the stories and recollections shared between defectors and authors Hyeonseo LeeThe desperation to go is better illustrated by, whose childhood in a totalitarian state was more vivid than any information provided by someone who only reads intelligence briefings. Lee is personable and even — in a documentary that tends toward darkness and solemnity — funny at times.

MostlyThis is the side of Beyond Utopia that nobody will remember, merely functioning to enhance the parts people are sure to remember vividly, probably through next year’s awards season.

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