Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned tells the story of a legendary object that has the ability to stop time for those who find it and how it affects their lives for better or worse. The film, written and directed by Tae-hwa Eom, features acting performances from Hyo-je Lee, Eun-soo Shin, Dong-won Gang, and Hee-won Kim.
I walked into this movie not knowing anything about it other than it involved time travel so it was labeled as a science fiction, fantasy film. If you are expecting any sort of action or drama dealing with time travel similar to other genre specific films, you will most likely be disappointed in what you will see here. Time, or the lack thereof, is definitely used a s a significant plot device although in a very unexpected way and it's hard to describe without giving some important stuff away. The story itself is very slow and awkward at times, as it follows a twelve year old girl as she learns to live with her struggling step father and then has to deal with her new best friend and classmate coming back from a magical experience that has turned him into a 28 year old adult.
There are some interesting elements of social commentary here including the environmental dangers of government tunnel digging, which we have also seen recently in The Tunnel. This is a minor point in the grand scheme of things but it does help to flesh out the world these people are living in which is otherwise a fairly secluded island village. As the movie progressed, I was a little worried how Tae-hwa Eom would handle the transition from two young kids in a budding puppy love relationship to having them reconnect with 15 years separating them physically, mentally, and emotionally, but he does a decent job of keeping things from becoming awkward and weird.
Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned is a very interesting concept that never quite hits the mark in its transition to the big screen. The story left me wandering and wondering when it was going to end, my friend was checking the time, and a nearby audience member was totally out and snoring away peacefully. I was hoping for an emotional crescendo at the end and it seemed to be heading that direction, but the end result just felt flat and unsatisfying.