7-year-old Nora and her big brother Abel are back to school. When Nora witnesses Abel being bullied by other kids, she rushes to protect him by warning their father. But Abel forces her to remain silent. Caught in a conflict of loyalty, Nora will ultimately try to find her place, torn between children’s and adults’ worlds.
A new semester, in front of the school. Unlike her big brother, Abel, Nora cries bitterly and clings to her father, as if the school gates were the gigantic jaws of a terrible monster. But throwing a tantrum does not mean she can avoid going to school. As time passes, Nora gradually adjusts to her school life. The problem is rather on Abel's side. Abel becomes increasingly withdrawn as he is bullied on the playground during recess. In Playground, the playground is a barbaric space where the boundary between play and bullying is blurred, and violence is invisible only to teachers who should protect and guide the students. The camera constantly follows Nora and is aligned with Nora’s senses. The extremely shallow depth of field allows viewers to stay in the world only Nora experiences and feels. As a result, the film rejects the clichéd conclusion that violence begets violence and moves on to actions that only Nora can take. And so the last minute of the film is simply marvelous. [Jay SOHN]
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