Berlinale Film Festival 73 review: A surprising coming-of-age story from Malene Choi, an adopted young man seeks a sense of belonging in ‘THE QUIET MIGRATION’


Carl’s South Korean identity has eluded him since birth as he has been living and working on the farm of his adopted Danish parents. With the expectation that he will take over the farm, Carl slowly begins to break away from the traditions of his family in search of belonging. The Quiet Migration is a slow-burn coming-of-age story. Racist microaggressions compound while poor Carl silently sits in agony. Longing to escape tradition and familial expectations, his journey toward cultural enlightenment comes at the cost of everything he’s ever known. 

Bjarne Henriksen and Bodil Jorgensen play Carl’s parents, Hans and Karen. Sweet and supportive, each gives a lovely, grounded performance. Cornelius Won Riedel-Clausen plays Carl. A mostly soft-spoken demeanor captures the character’s inner turmoil perfectly. A spark of curiosity gleams in Won Riedel-Clausen’s eye, driving Carl toward his truth. He is thoroughly engaging.

As Carl’s chances for individualism seem to dwindle, augmented audio in transitional scenes complements visuals of deterioration. The primarily static 16mm camerawork gives the film a documentary feel, as does the often sparse dialogue and long takes. The intensely funny town gossip and local far-right ignorance come together to paint a picture of global tension. The Quiet Migration has an unexpected quirkiness that I wish appeared more often. The surreal elements shine within writer-director Malene Choi‘s already thoughtful drama. The beautiful ending between Carl and his parents feels just right. It is a unique entry for Berlinale 73 audiences.

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.

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