Directed by Sang-soo Hong and released in it’s home country of South Korea in 2010.
Hahaha is very similar to the only other film of the director’s I’ve seen, The Day He Arrives. The editing is sparse, the takes long but full of life and the performances spectacular. The acting is so fluent and natural that all the relationships in the film seem real and for a film based purely on human emotion and relationship – another similiarity with Arrives – that’s very hard to achieve.
For the filmmakers in South Korea, however, this comes ever so naturally to them. Sang-soo Hong and Ki-duk Kim are both exquisite at this and, while this is only the second film of Hong’s I’ve seen, I think it’s safe for me to put them both on the same pedestal – bear in mind I’ve seen 11 of Kim’s films.
Like Arrives there is narration but this time it’s more frequent, and in similarly unique fashion, there are two narrators. One would think that having two narrators wouldn’t work, but their narration is merely a conversation between the two that is spliced in at the end of pivotal scenes and spoken over a still photograph of the two characters speaking. The two friends tell each other their stories and what makes it special is that various characters intertwine without either friend realizing.
Again, like Arrives, there is repetition of places and faces – the characters intertwining with each other is another example of the repetition – this undoubtedly helps the viewer to get used to the visuals which are plain but, as I mentioned before, full of life. The characters’ emotions are laid out flat on the table and we see each and every one of them go through just about each and every emotion which is a feat in itself and just showcases the excellent acting on display. The dialogue, like the acting, flows brilliantly and the cinematography, again like Arrives, is perfect – never static, never frantic and full of Hong’s trademark zoom technique.
At first I was irritated by this technique but after seeing it used in both of his films I’m used to it – it helps the viewer focus on what we should be focusing on in the scenes where it is used. The structure is very unlinear and I’m a huge fan of films that use such a structure, and Hahaha uses it to it’s advantage. The title is very interesting too, the characters laugh and cry but overall they are generally happy, laughing and joking with each other but in all honesty the film could’ve easily been called the crying equivalent.
Hahaha is another great film from Sang-soo Hong and I can only expect his films to get better.