ALONERS – Review by Loren King

Social critique wrapped in a quiet drama and character study, Aloners is the incisive feature debut from South Korean writer-director Hong Sung-eun and features a powerful lead performance from actress Gong Seung-yeon. Without heavy-handedness, the film depicts a world of people more comfortable wired to their phones than talking over lunch; preferring to stare at handheld screens on the bus rather than engage with a fellow passenger. Aloners is downbeat yet it’s more somber, more searching, than grim. There’s black humor in watching young women in the soul crushing job of talking to strangers from behind a barrier of corporate phoniness.

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ALONERS – Review by Leslie Combemale

Aloners, which had the original title of People Who Live Alone in Korean, is a stunning feature debut for writer/director/editor Hong Sung-eun. This poignant story of self-isolation captures that place those who are grieving go.It is neither life nor death, but somewhere in between the two. Those going through it must choose to feel too much or to feel nothing, and lead character Jina (Gong Seung-yeon) determines to shut herself off from herself and everyone around her. One of the most poignant aspects of Aloners is how it shows, very gently, the impossibility of that choice. It only leads to Jina becoming haunted, both literally and figuratively.

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ALONERS – Review by Nikki Fowler

Aloners was a tough watch in a very good way. It’s a film that stirs you as a reviewer to consider some really complicated but universal topics. Gong Seung-yeon shines as Jina, a young woman who has a seemingly mundane and monotonous life as a credit card customer service representative. She deals on a daily basis with an array of callers, including those on the toxic side, who make demands for fixes, and she is good at appeasing them with apologies.

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ALONERS (TIFF 2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Hong Sung-eun’s Aloners is an engaging film about a woman who is completely disengaged. Currently playing as part of the Discovery stream at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, the programme tells us that our protagonist Jina (Gong Seung-yeon) is part of a lifestyle phenomenon known as holojok, “a neologism formed by combining the Korean words holo (alone) and jok (group) to define the growing number of people who prefer to be left alone in one-person households, accounting for one-third of total homes in Seoul”. A low-key, thoughtful meditation on the difference between being alone and loneliness, isolation and independence, Aloners is a quiet, thoughtful and sensitive debut feature from a filmmaker to watch.

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