There are some movies that come around and have an impact on you right away. There are others that sometimes take a while to sink in. “Abigail Harm” seems to fall in the latter category. Based off the Korean folk tale “The Woodcutter and the Nymph,” Lee Isaac Chung brings his tale to life in a fictionalized New York City. What comes together is a tale that’s beautifully acted, yet just doesn’t feel fulfilling.
“Abigail Harm” opens up with a woman in her 50’s who makes her living by reading books to the blind. This woman is Abigail Harm (Plummer). Abigail seems to live her life in isolation and the only connection she has with any other living person is with these listeners. She’s so detached from the world that she is unable to visit her dying father as it’s too much for her to contemplate.
Abigail then encounters an unnamed man (Will Patton) with long hair who is wounded, yet has the ability to magically heal him as he speaks about a repetitive tale about an otherworldly creature, who comes to earth wearing a robe containing special powers. He then says to her that her desire to feel love and to eventually be loved could open if she follows his instructions. Abigail follows his advice, which involves her going to a vacant old building, where she finds a young man (Tetsuo Kuramochi) taking a bath. She steals his bathrobe, which all but guarantees his love for her and prevents his return to the world he came from.
Abigail Harm is full of hidden and philosophical meanings that could have been put together better if it were longer than an 80 minute film. The relationship that is developed between Abigail and the young man feels so rushed that it doesn’t allow the audience to feel anything as well. The connection between Abigail and the young man is built through silence which could have been effective if it didn’t feel so distant.
As for the performances, Amanda Plummer carries the film on her shoulders. She’s able to portray Abigail so wonderfully as this damaged and fragile human. Newcomer Tetsuo Kuramochi does so much with so little which is impressive. When checking to see what else he’s been in, seeing that this was his first film blew me away.
Lee Isaac Chung takes a very minimalistic approach in filming “Abigail Harm,” and while it does flourish at times, something just feels like it’s missing. We’re able to feel the isolation and disconnection presented in the film, but feeling this way will always leave you wanting more.
“Abigail Harm” opens today on August 30 at “The Quad” New York.
Additional reporting by Joshua Kaye