A North Korean general visits his talented daughter at a prestigious Swiss school to test her loyalty towards her motherland. An outstanding singer, with a promising future, she dreams of studying in America. But her dream will be at the cost of her father’s life if she doesn’t return.
Director Minji Kang’s short chamber drama is at heart a story of familial and intergenerational conflict, but set in a unique crucible: the authoritarian politics of North Korea, whose pressures distort and warp the father-daughter dynamic to an untenable, shocking point.
Guided by a well-paced script and taut, elegant camerawork that captures the daughter’s rarified surroundings, the film is fueled by excellent performances that capture many of the unspoken agreements and expectations that exist between family — as well as the explosive pressures that eventually erupt between a father and daughter who want diametrically opposed goals.
“The Loyalist” delineates both characters of the father and daughter with compassion, capturing the complex knot of family, honor, love, loyalty and duty that bounds the pair — and making the film’s climactic moments all the more devastating. The heartbreaking, shocking ending moments of the film will linger, long after its conclusion.