Take Care Of My Cat

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Take Care Of My Cat

While in high school, the five young women at the center of Take Care Of My Cat form an inseparable unit, a giggling, uniform-clad mass with seemingly no determinate parts. But high school ends with the opening credits, and soon, no less daunting a task than growing up—and growing apart—awaits them. First-time writer-director Jae-eun Jeong follows their progress in her warm and clear-headed debut. Her film travels along the delicate web of cell-phone calls, emoticon-laced text messages, and occasional reunions that keep the old gang together, or at least try. Leaving their port city of Inchon, Yo-won Lee seeks the fast track to career success, fetching coffee and making copies in nearby Seoul, leaving the maintenance of their friendship to the others, particularly Don-na Bae, who takes dictation from a cerebral-palsy-stricken poet when not uncomfortably nestled in her family's middle-class home. Meanwhile, a friendly kitten gets passed from character to character, based on their individual ability or willingness to care for it. Jeong's film explores broad cross-sections of Korean youth: Living with her impoverished grandparents, Ji-Young Ok dreams of a life designing textiles, while the ethnically Chinese twins Eun-joo Lee and Eun-Shil Lee provide a reminder of Inchon's past as an immigrants' town. Dramatically, Take Care Of My Cat may be no fairer than American teen movies in which characters can be reduced to broad types like The Jock and The Nerd, but the cast and the film's low-key approach makes its simplicity easy to overlook. In fact, Jeong's movie is at its best when it forgets about everything but the interactions of its cast, whether they're together or communicating via one of Cat's cleverly orchestrated cell-phone scenes. The film's only real problem arrives toward the end, when it seems to realize that it has nowhere to go and orchestrates a crisis to wind all the subplots together. That turn of events is a mild let-down after so much time spent delicately portraying the gentle, unsparing drift away from the familiar comforts of childhood.