Friday, August 12, 2016


Cheon-soo, a young film director, in town a day early for a screening and lecture, takes in some local colour and meets Hee-jeong, a young painter at a local tourist attraction. At first awkward, their conversation establishes connection enough for Cheon-soo to suggest coffee. The cafe conversation warms them up enough for Hee-jeong to invite him to her studio where he praises her new canvas. At dinner they get drunk enough for her to invite him to a social gathering. Here, the wider conversation reveals his earlier praise to have been drawn from platitudes in interviews he has given. And then, as his vulnerability and confidence soaring, he reveals a truth which scuttles every lovely thing he had established with Hee-jeong that day. The next day's screening and Q&A session fizzes and he wanders back to his life in deflation.

A title card that reverses the first one appears and the entire story replays with one big difference: the pair are more candid and truthful with each other. From the first halting chat it is clear that things are going to turn out very differently. Within the parameters set the two outcomes are polar opposites because of this. While new steps toward romance take more time and effort they are also more binding and durable. We also feel very differently about them this time.

The wonderful Hong Sango-soo who made a fan of me at MIFF 2014 with Our Sun-hi has done it again. With characteristic attention to detail and nuance, strong casting and a firm hand on performances we have another astutely observed and deceptively light social comedy about self representation and the value of truth vs pleasing fiction. Of the title and the two versions I don't know if we are to see them as a kind of oblivious Groundhog Day, parallel universes, or simply a patiently constructed essay in the value we place on our statements when we want something. In the end any of those interpretations work for me and I, for one, did not resent the quick revelation that we were going to relive the same hour long story once the second title card gave way to the exact same opening shot of the previous story. I was just happy to see it again.

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