Canada

Mother/daughter drama drives Queen of the Morning Calm

Toronto-set tale perches its protagonist on the precipice of poverty

The drama and the tension in a story like Queen of the Morning Calm – the title is a reference to the nickname of Korea, birthplace of the director as well as her protagonist – comes from the precarious nature of the lives of its characters. In one sense we are all aware of being one event away from tragedy, but for Debra, teetering on the edge of poverty, homelessness and unemployment, it won’t take much for her to topple. And Mona isn’t helping, but why should she? She’s only 10!

Queen of the Morning Calm delivers a nuanced portrayal of inner-city Toronto – neither beautiful nor horrifying – and of a young woman trying to make her way in it. Ironically, the real-life corner where Filmores now stands – COVID-ready, it boasts – has been slated for redevelopment into condominium housing. But the fictional Debra isn’t looking back.

Queen of the Morning Calm opens Sept. 25 in Toronto, with other cities to follow.

3.5 stars out of 5

A remarkably assured first feature from Canadian writer/director Gloria Ui Young Kim, Queen of the Morning Calm tells a simple story of a mother and daughter trying to make their way in the world.

The mother is Debra Choi, played by Tina Jung. Her daughter is a 10-year-old bundle of trouble named Mona (Eponine Lee). And the world in question is Toronto – more specifically, the corner of Dundas and George Streets, where Debra works as an exotic dancer at Filmores.

It’s not the life she would have chosen, and she’s doing everything she can to get out of it, taking business classes with the aim of finding a job where she can keep her clothes on. (In one touching scene, she’s dressing for a job interview and asks Mona how she looks. The little girl reaches up, does up one extra button on her blouse, and gives her approval.)

But as Kim’s screenplay shows, there are cycles – of abuse, of poverty, of exploitation – that are difficult to break. Debra’s boyfriend (and Mona’s father) is a ne’er-do-well with the unusual name of Sarge (Jesse LaVercombe), who is barely in their life and all the more trouble when he does show up. Debra spends most of her time dodging the superintendent’s requests for rent, and trying to reign in Mona, who is getting into increasing trouble at the Catholic school she attends.

Football news:

Milan - the first club to have 3 players born after January 1, 1999 scored in a Europa League/Champions League match
Zenith is necessary to protect the Semak. He can become as much of a legend as Semin is to Loco. Sabitov about the coach of St. Petersburg
Morelos scored the 21st goal in European competition for Rangers, repeating Mccoist's record
Tottenham were the first Premier League clubs to lose in the European Cup season
Arsenal have not conceded at home for the first time since July 1. Goalkeeper Runarsson made his debut for the Londoners
Sandro Tonali: Milan on the crest of a wave. The Rossoneri shirt is pressing, but I'm getting in shape
Kadyrov's adviser hit the judge in the groin, and his son was dismissed from Akhmat and banned for three years. At first they all denied