Its title lifted from a bleak poem by French surrealist Louis Aragon, Korean writer-director Hong Sang-soo's melancholy film flashes back and forth in time to tell the sad tale of two men and the woman they both loved in their woeful fashion. Aspiring filmmaker Hun-joon (Kim Taewoo), newly returned to Korea after years of studying in the U.S., makes a date with his old college friend Mun-ho (Yu Jitae), once an aspiring painter and now an art professor staggering under the burden of a huge mortgage on the handsome suburban home he bought to meet the expectations of his ambitious wife. They repair to a local noodle shop for lunch — where each tries in turn to pick up the teenage waitress — they drink immoderately, and the conversation eventually turns to Sun-hwa (Song Hyunah), the girl each dated and treated badly back when they were young and feckless. Hun-joon was with her first but callously withdrew after she was raped by an old acquaintance and used his trip to America to sever all ties, though he duplicitously promised during their tearful farewell at the airport that he'd stay in touch. Mun-ho took advantage of Hun-joon's absence to romance the emotionally damaged Sun-hwa, but he, too, eventually abandoned her. Mun-ho has heard through the grapevine that she now lives in nearby Puchon and works in a hotel bar, and after more intemperate imbibing, they decide to pay a surprise visit to Sun-hwa. Up-and-coming filmmaker Hong uses this simple story to peel away the layers of self-delusion in which Mun-ho and Hun-joon have wrapped themselves and their memories of Sun-hwa, and his frosty insights are perfectly mirrored by the glittering winter landscapes against which the film's present-day sequences unfold. Despite its deliberately small scale, Hong's film speaks volumes about thorny relationships between men and women and the difference between holding on to the past and being held back by it.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: NR
- Review: Its title lifted from a bleak poem by French surrealist Louis Aragon, Korean writer-director Hong Sang-soo's melancholy film flashes back and forth in time to tell the sad tale of two men and the woman they both loved in their woeful fashion. Aspiring film… (more)