Directed by Sang-Soo Hong and released in its home country of South Korea in 2013.
Considering Sang-Soo Hong’s last five or so films have all been slow-paced films essentially focusing on relationships its no surprise that his latest film is a continuation of such themes. The characters swerve in and out; the camera lingers for longer than it should but somehow remains intrusive; the characters are based in the film industry or trying to break into it; there is excessive alcoholism; a wandering voiceover from the protagonist…. these are all things that are essential to a Hong film and they all appear here.
After In Another Country I was sure that he would try to shy away from this and do something challenging – for the most part this isn’t true but in only one way it is: the protagonist (if you can even call her that) in this film is a female – something that, before In Another Country, Hong hadn’t tried…. but alas everything else is here.
With a film by Hong if you don’t connect to the characters then you aren’t going to like the film itself, as it is obvious that the majority of his recent films are connected in many ways and are more about the characters than any straightforward narrative story, and that’s exactly what happened with me here. Our protagonist Haewon wanders effortlessly from place to place without any purpose whatsoever. The film ends on a somewhat ambiguous note leaving one to wander if Haewon’s relationship with her director was a fantasy or a reality but personally I couldn’t care less. By that point I was so frustrated by her aimlessness that I was ecstatic it had ended
Like The Day He Arrives, Hahaha and Oki’s Movie the film focuses on relationships, alcoholism and adultery but this time from the perspective of a female. Sadly that doesn’t change much and it plays out just as anyone acquainted with Hong’s work would expect. After seeing the same techniques utilized in the aforementioned trio of films, I was getting really tired of this guy… and this film really hasn’t helped. Hong’s perfected but inherently flawed techniques alone do not hinder the film it is the lack of a coherent story that really does this into the ground.
Sang-Soo Hong has talent shining out of his ass but for some strange reason he’s decided to make a bunch of films one after the other that are almost identical in every way. Despite the amount of respect I have for him, Hong really needs to come up with something new because this routine is getting very stale. But regardless of the flaws, the film draws you in just like all of Hong’s films do and that’s not to mention the fact he finally tackled a troubled female protagonist as opposed to a troubled male protagonist – something which can be seen in all of his films to date. Its not hard to tell that Hong’s technical abilities are getting better and better – the easy thing to note is the fact that he has cut down on the use of his trademark zoom. Just comparing this to any of his recent works will give you a very clear picture of his progression.