TIFF 2021: “Aloners”

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

There are many types of loneliness: emotional, social, situational or even chronic. Some people, though, become one by choice.

Jina (Gong Seung-yeon) is a loner by choice. She is a top employee at a credit card call center. When she comes to work, she is focused on customers. When she leaves work, she focuses on her inner world. She has created an unbreakable wall through which nobody can pass. Even her father, who keeps calling her due to the unresolved matter of her deceased mother’s inheritance, the woman disregards those calls too. It seems everything suits Jina until the moment when the new intern (Jung Da-eun) arrives – she interferes in Jina’s personal space, asks for more time with her like having lunch together and things Jina cannot stand at all.

“Aloners” is an extremely juicy character-driven film that examines the life of one young woman in her twenties. Jina’s best friend is her phone and the headphone. She listens to music on her way home or to work. She ignores her neighbors and did not even realize that her neighbor was dead for a week in his apartment. At one point, the woman told the landlady, “how can he be dead if I saw him this morning?” That answer alone shapes JIna’s personality and a lack of observation skills or being blind to her surroundings.

“Aloners” is another exceptional South Korean drama that somehow manages to be too good. From start to end, director Hong Sung-eun grabs your attention, invites to the dark world of Jina and captures her lonely life – a life where she does not have much to do and the lack of interest in anything, not to mention, communication with others. This is why people like Jina need a shocker, something or someone that can shake up their world, throw them out of their comfort zone and let them face a different perspective of life that individuals like Jina avoid at any cost.

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