At a time when television series are increasingly taking over from the cinematographic biopic, lingering for several hours on the – often tortured – destinies of colorful personalities (WeCrashed with Jared Leto, very recently), does the family fresco still have a future on the small screen? Pachinko has the answer, and it is obviously affirmative. One could even say that she is its spokesperson. On March 25, AppleTV+ unveiled the first episodes of its international production. One toe in the United States, the others between Japan and South Korea, this series adapted from a bestseller by Min Jin Lee follows the trajectory of a family over four generations, between 1915 and the 80s. .
Directed by two American directors of South Korean origin, Kogonada and Justin Chon, the first eight episodes which form the first season of Pachinko are a concentrate of romantic ambition and formal delicacy. A television object of a refinement that we rarely see on streaming platforms today, alternating great melodramatic flights and brutal visions of the reality of South Korea at the beginning of the 20th century. Under Japanese occupation, the country has become a hostile territory for its citizens, who have had to learn to live in the midst of ambient xenophobia and daily injustices.
In Pachinkothis is what young Kim Sunja is trying to do, brilliantly played by three actresses over the years (including Youn Yuh-jung, Oscar winner in 2021 for her performance in the delicate minari). Coming from a very modest background, she dreams of freedom and love, but reality catches up with her and puts her through a number of hardships, including an unexpected motherhood and an unexpected departure for a new country. Begins a slow fight in order to keep his identity intact. To transcribe the boiling of the time, AppleTV + did not skimp on the means and offers a meticulous reconstruction of the habits and customs of South Korea. But it is especially in the narration that Pachinko impresses, by the density of what it tells (the weight of uprooting, whether it is wanted or not) and the emotion that passes through it.