Ounie Lecomte’s South Korean-set A Brand New Life is the sort of elegant, understated picture that makes great filmmaking look easy. We never see the face of the father who leads little Jin-hee (Kim Sae-ron) to a Catholic orphanage—but it’s all she sees, for weeks after he’s gone, even as the nuns who run the place and her fellow orphans show genuine warmth in their efforts to help her accept her new circumstances. Cinderella stories don’t need cruel foster moms and step-sisters to be heartbreaking—the stubborn, misallocated love of an abandoned child is enough. The subtitles here are hardly necessary: Lecomte’s cast conveys a lifetime of emotional information on their faces and through their behavior. The Mother Superior beats blankets on a clothesline with a stick; Jin-hee digs a shallow grave and tries for an excruciating moment to bury herself. Microscopic epiphanies in each scene make the point that hope can subsist on a miserly ration. Here is a film wherein the death of a bird counts as a major plot point, but make no mistake: It’s an action movie.
At 6:30 p.m.; also on Saturday, April 9 at 6:45 p.m. Both showings at E Street Cinema.