Explaining Why A Day is Movie Mindjob Madness - because this movie definitely needs to be unpacked, dissected, and explained.
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I’ve been a little busy. Haven’t been here nearly as much as I would generally like. I mean – why wouldn’t I? You guys are just so nice to me. But with flights, side jobs, coliseums, home chaos, friends chaos, kid chaos. My life has been a veritable nap compared to this movie. A Day? No. My life is a respite, and a reprieve comparatively. Heck, I’ll take another serving of my life happily in comparison to trying to navigate a day like A Day. So today, we’ll be explaining why A Day is movie mindjob madness that is totally worth your time. But a film that not many people are talking about.
If you haven’t heard of it (no stress, I hadn’t, until Frederic Marie mentioned it to us all here. (Hint, red tab at the bottom of the screen.)) it is like a grownup version of Groundhog Day, but better. Oh, no he diinntttt. Yes, yes I did. I just said that A Day is a better version of Groundhog Day.
If you still aren’t convinced, the movie basically deals with a father and a doctor endlessly dealing with their wife and daughters death repeating endlessly. And the two men are required to figure out the puzzle of their deaths before they have any hope escaping from this mental mindjob of a puzzle. Make sense? And I personally loved the larger story of sin, redemption, and forgiveness that percolates under the surface of this crazy thriller. I am actually pretty shocked that no one is queued up to make an American version of this film. Not that it would be any better, in fact, I’m sure it’d be vile comparatively, but, I’m just shocked Amazon hasn’t hired a director to remake it. OK, let’s dive in.
A Day Movie Explained
The movie is setup in loops, as you quickly found out. And by my counting, I saw fifteen distinct loops that took us from the airplane, out to the accident. Jun-young, a doctor who is world renowned, is returning to South Korea after working with the United Nations. And it is this vaunted professional, who has saved so many lives through his cardiology work, that quickly becomes trapped in his own worst nightmare. I think we probably need to talk through the fifteen various loops, so we are all on the same page. OK? Which brings us to:
Important Character Names: The doctor’s name is Jun-young, and his daughter’s name is Eun-jung. The EMT’s name is Min-Chui, and his wife’s name is Mi-Kyung. And the taxi driver’s name is Kang-shik, and his son’s name is Ha-roo.
Loop #1: The movie kicks off with Jun-Young on a plane, heading back to be with his daughter. On his way departing the plane, he saves a boy choking on a candy. And he does a press conference about his work, but he’s determined to get to be with his daughter. He promises her he won’t be late. He drives out of the airport, only to come on to an accident wherein he discovers a driver of a taxi that is badly hurt. Then Jun-Young discovers that his daughter is dead, and had been hit in the accident. At which point he snaps back to the airplane.
Loop #2: Second loop through, he realizes what is happening, and that he is running late, and has to hurry to get there in time to save his daughter’s life. But he still doesn’t make it in time.
Loop #3: Jun-Young is now searching for a path to get to his daughter in time. He cancels the press conference. Blows through the toll booth. But can’t finagle a way to her in the midst of the busy city streets in time.
Loop #4: On his way to his daughter, Jun-young crashes his car, and limps his way to the accident. ANNNND his daughter is already dead.
Loop #5: This time, as he is rushing to the accident that he isn’t in time to stop, he memorizes the cell phone number of the Taxi Cab driver that was dying.
Loop #6: But when Jun-Young calls the cab driver, he doesn’t speak to him. Miraculously, Jun-Young is able to find a tricky dirt road, and make it to his daughter in time. (I’m sorry, WHAT?!? Anyway, I digress.) But at the last second, he turns too late, and she is hit by the taxi cab driver.
At the end of loop 6, another man – the taxi cab driver, Min-Chui – who’s wife is also dying. Both men are trapped by the loops, and yet, they are the only ones with any sort of free will in the midst of this situation. The two men agree to meet the next loop around.
Loop #7: The two men meet (unclear how this happened – but ours is not to reason why…) and they both posit that their goal, in order to stop the loops, is to save Mi-Kyung, the wife, and Eun-Jung, the daughter. Which, seems reasonable at this point in the story. And even after they meet and come up with a plan – and after Jun-young tells his daughter via the press conference to change their meeting location, she is still hit and killed.
Loop #8: The two men rack their brains to try and figure out how to contact either Min-Chui’s wife, or Eun-jung. But Mi-kyung won’t take Min-Chui’s calls, she’s still angry with him from earlier in the morning, and there is something else going on there. Min-chui decides his best course of action is to crack himself in the head with a brick and then to go to the police and tell them he was hit by a hit and run. He describes the car as that of the taxi. But it doesn’t work, and the accident still happens.
Loop #9: Min-Chui remembers that he had told his wife that he didn’t want to have a child because they didn’t have enough money for it. And that that was why she wasn’t picking up the phone every time he called. Min-Chui manages to convince the police to get to the intersection, but there is no accident.
Jun-young, the doctor if you are half as confused as I am, was able to change the location of the meet up with his daughter, but Kang-shik – the taxi driver – also saw the press conference as well. And so when the doctor calls Kang-shik, the taxi driver tells him that his daughter is still going to die. And that she should have died 3 years ago. And sure enough, just as the father is reaching his daughter, the taxi barrels through them both, ending the loop.
Loop #10: So now we all are fully aware that the taxi cab driver, Kang-shik, is killing the daughter, Eun-Jung, intentionally. He’s going out of his way to kill her. So now we understand that there are three different people that this time is looping for – the doctor, the EMT, and the taxi cab driver. But why?
Jun-young heads to his office in order to try and figure out who this guy is in the taxi is. And the EMT cracks another police officer in the head to get at the data in the police computers. But that is when we learn that Jun-young’s daughter, Eun-jung, three years ago was in need of a heart replacement. But we learn that her replacement donor’s guardian rejected the match for Eun-jung. So she’s going to die. But, a child came in at about that same time, unconscious, maybe brain dead. And we learn that Jun-young took the child’s heart, and replaced it in his daughter. There was a murder – in effect – and an unpardonable sin. This is how we got trapped in this loop.
But we also learned that this wasn’t the only sin of the day. That Min-chui also screwed up. That while driving, he was distracted, and ran a car off the road. That car, as LUCK would have it, was the same father and son who Jun-young stole the heart from. And now we have our interlocking moral morass triangle.
If you didn’t catch that – Min-chui was driving, swerved, and knocked Kang-shik and his son Ha-roo off the road. Ha-roo goes into a coma, and is likely to become brain dead. The father Kang-shik is maybe dying as well. So Jun-young forges paperwork for Ha-roo to donate his heart to Eun-jung, and signs on behalf of Ha-roo’s father, Kang-shik. So, Min-chui and Jun-young are basically guilty of murder.
Loop #11: Begins with the doctor heading over to Kang-shik’s house. During which we learn that the doctor resigned after the heart swap. He left his private practice and headed out to do NGO work with the United Nations. And loop number eleven ends with the taxi driver driving straight through the daughter.
Loop #12: The doctor wakes on the plane, crying. Min-Chui sprints to the accident intersection to tell Kang-shik that his wife, Mi-Kyung, is innocent, that she didn’t do anything.
Loop #13: Throughout this loop, Min-chui is looking to find where his wife picked up the taxi cab. To learn what it was that she was doing before she got in the cab.
Loop #14: Jun-young realizes that saving his daughter isn’t how he stops the loops. But rather by apologizing to Kang-shik for killing his son. Min-chui goes through his wife’s calendar and journal. And Jun-young goes to the accident site to talk to Kang-shik.
The doctor saves the life of Kang-shik by giving him a shot of epinephrine. And he tells the cab driver that he had to ask forgiveness. That at first he thought that the repeating days were a gift to try and save his daughter. But then he realized the loops were a nightmare. Back then I had no choice, my daughter was dying. But then Kang-shik responds, “I would have done the same, that is true, but you would do the same as me. You’d get revenge. I’ll kill her again. You’ll forever be stuck in hell.”
Loop #15: Mi-kyung is pregnant, and considering an abortion since Min-chui told her he thought they couldn’t afford to have a child. And Min-chui has decided that killing Kang-shik is the best way to end the loops. BUT WE ALREADY KNOW that the loops repeat on the death of Kang-shik…not on the death of either the daughter or wife.
And when Min-chui gets a hold of Kang-shik as he’s about to pick up Mi-kyung, he stabs him in the shoulder. “IT WAS AN ACCIDENT” Min-chui tells Kang-shik. “BUT YOU RAN AWAY!! HE MIGHT HAVE SURVIVED!” (There’s lots of yelling.) And the taxi driver floors it after not picking up the wife. And Kang-shik heads straight towards Eun-jung, but Jun-young spins his car around Eun-jung and protects her from getting hit. Jun-young tells Kang-shik that killing Eun-jung is like killing Ha-roo since she has his heart. But then, out of nowhere, Min-chui comes flying in with his ambulance trying to kill Kang-shik. But Jun-young struggles with Min-chui to save Kang-shik’s life. And in the process, the doctor is stabbed in the chest.
The taxi driver heads over to Eun-jung in order to kill her. But he collapses. Important flashback: back at the hospital, after Eun-jung’s heart transplant, she tells Ha-roo’s father, who is still in a coma, that Ha-roo was with her, and she begged him not to leave us. And it is this request that keeps him alive all these loops. And as we come back to the present, we see the car that crash explode, and Kang-shik protects Eun-jung from the explosion. And then we have a happy exposition of Min-chui and Mi-kyung deciding to have the baby. Eun-jung and Kang-shik talking. And finally we see that they are going to name the child Ha-roo. (Which, in Korean is A Day, just in case you missed that bit. Because I only just got that bit myself.)
Thoughts on the movie A Day
I really, really enjoyed being completely lost as this movie kicked off. I just had no idea what was going on. OK, we have a perfect doctor. Fine. We have a hailed returning hero. And then a horrible accident. OK, um…what is going on here? And even as we learn about the EMT, I was still thoroughly confused. And even after loop ten, when I thought I knew what was going on, I didn’t understand that it was Kang-shik, the taxi driver that was holding it all together. It was every time he died that the loop started over again. Not when the wife and daughter died.
Why? Because the triangle was between the trio. Not with the ladies. They were collateral damage. It was the sin of the doctor and the sin of the EMT that connected them to the revenge of the taxi driver. And it was only when the doctor realized he needed to ask forgiveness did he really get what was going on here.
I actually think that the ending was inconsistent. It would have made more sense, and been more logical if Min-chui and Mi-kyung had died at the end. Why? Because it was Jun-young that was asking for forgiveness. And it was Eun-jung that was trying to save Kang-shik. To get him to live. But it was Min-chui that was still trying to kill Kang-shik at the end of the film. He still didn’t get it at all.
Yes, I understand that the mechanics of the film were such that they keyed off of Kang-shik. And it was his surviving that broke the loop. And actually, we don’t know if the loop is broken. But we know that his revenge cycle is broken. It could very well be that when Kang-shik dies 20 years from now, Jun-young will awaken again on the airplane, all over again! hahaha.
I think the film was an interesting conversation about grace, and about forgiveness. That it was only when Kang-shik stopped his hellbent rage on revenge that the cycle stopped. And it was only when Jun-young stopped his pointless cycle of trying to save his daughter, that he really realized what was happening. This was a story about moral failings – egregious moral failings – and the hunt for forgiveness.