Random Shorts - 'Halfway Home' by Martin Hong


The story of a wandering 'orphaned' young boy is a familiar motif used in many films, with Life of Pi being the most point of recall. I suspect these are visual manifestations of the lonely yet 'wanderlust-ful' minds of filmmakers. Filmmakers love to escape and take you with them too. Martin Hong's 'Halfway Home' is a whimsical journey of a young boy searching for his home, likely both in a physical and metaphorical sense. He drags a cardboard structure shaped like an origami boat across a supposed tropical wilderness, made even less familiar by the tinting of the images in pastel hues, accompanied by a dreamy ballad that essentially binds the entire film together.

While these creamy elements add up to form a pretty montage that could standalone as visual art, there is something ambiguous and enigmatic about the boy that draws you in on a deeper level. The boy is dressed in somewhat an androgynous set of pyjamas with pink-like trimmings (can't tell the colour under all that tinting) and he sports a bob that leave room to reveal his soft feminine facial frame and those pixie-like peepers. Yet he trudges on with boyish determination and basks in the naive and innocent joy of imagined company of his parents, who appear as plastic or cardboard cut-outs.

Delightfully, the boy does not try too hard to fit into the frame of the script but plays along with his instincts. With an organic style of directing, the unspoken and often undefined expressions on his face create a certain endearing vulnerability in him. Whether intended or unintended, the film seems to be ultimately exploring the fragility of the human mind through the boy's make-believe experience, cleverly alluding to 'madness' in the title 'Halfway Home'.

Reviewed by Jeremy Sing

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