Gina Kim's Invisible Light adds reach to this wave - it spans an ocean, to California. Split national identity is built into the structure of Kim's debut feature. The first half focuses on Gah-In, a Korean student in California: a message on Gah-In's answering machine, left by the wife of a man she's having an affair with, seems to trigger a bout of agoraphobic and anorexic despair (she never voices a word). The second half follows Do-Hee, the woman who left the message on Gah-In's machine: during a journey back to Seoul, Do-Hee searches for an answer to her own dilemma (it isn't whether or not she should leave her husband).
The man who links these two women remains unheard and unseen - out of the picture - from start to finish. The pictures Kim does present, especially during the film's Californian section, are frequently stunning. (Especially considering the film was shot for next to no money on a Sony DSR 500 Camcorder.) She magnifies the leafy-green view from a doorlike window in Gah-In's lifeless gray-white apartment, and later first gazes down on and then stares up at the choppy surface of a pool: bracingly edited, these points of view hint at Gah-In's inner conflicts and boundary issues. Ditto an uncanny sequence during the film's second half, when giraffes behind glass at a zoo seem to perform a dance for Do-Hee.
Infidelity is beside Kim's point; cheating is an ironic connecting thread, considering both women are so isolated. With one exception: the intense bond between Kim's direction and her main characters verges on symbiosis. Gah-In's chewing noises violently dominate the first half's soundtrack, just as rustling sheets practically chafe the audience's ears in Park Ki-Yong's similarly minimalist date in purgatory Camel(s). The longest take observes a binge from beginning to end; appliances and walls form monoliths around Gah-In as she near mechanically devours the contents of her churning fridge: strawberries, bread, "lo-fat" milk, carrots, and mayonnaise.
Though Do-Hee's circumstance - in particular, the quandary spawned by her response to adultery - strangely mirrors that of the wife in Im's film, Invisible Light 's stasis stare-downs are less populist. (Framed prints on the walls of Gah-In's apartment offer clues to Kim's painterly approach.) The first segment evokes the domestic prison terms of Chantal Akerman's Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles and Todd Haynes's Dielman-inspired Safe. The Korean section builds to a sustained close-up of Do-Hee - the section's equivalent of Gah-In's binge - that invokes the salty-wet finale of Tsai Ming-liang's Vive l'amour. A child, a ring, these are a few of the favorite things that cause tears in Invisible Light and in Im's film. Both are true to the unfaithful.
—Johnny Ray Huston (March 3, 2004)