Another really great Hong movie, this one with a different structural game than the others. Kwon (Seo Young-hwa of On the Beach at Night Alone) comes back to Seoul after vacation, picks up a batch of letters from Mori (Ryo Kase, crazed boyfriend in Like Someone In Love), and reads them out of order after they accidentally get dropped. Hong proceeds to play this guy’s story – arriving in Seoul to open his heart to Kwon then hanging around and losing hope and getting distracted when he finds her missing – in the same shuffled order she is reading the letters…
1. Mori hangs out with a girl from the Hill of Freedom Cafe, the same place where Kwon is now reading the letters
Mori is reading a book about time in every scene. Of course he meets a film producer… and of course he gets sad and drunk more than once
The guy in the bad shorts (think it’s Eui-sung Kim of Train to Busan) is Mori’s landlady’s nephew. He appears early on during the search for HoF Girl’s missing dog, then again at the guesthouse haranguing some poor girl.
Mori is sleeping with HoF Girl Youngsun (So-ri Moon of both The Housemaid and The Handmaiden, two titles I sometimes get confused).
Mori is leaving notes on the door of Kwon’s last known residence, returning to find the notes undisturbed. He gets awkward with the cafe girl and accidentally locks himself in her bathroom.
Present-tense, Kwon runs into Youngsun, exchanges pleasantries, then goes looking for Mori and finds him at the guesthouse. “The next day we left together for Japan. We had two children.”
Mori wakes up in the courtyard and it’s not Kwon but Youngsun – she got drunk and slept in his room while he stayed outside. She wakes up, leaves.
Vadim Rizov in Filmmaker:
The dialogue is predominantly in awkward English, because Japanese Mori is in South Korea to search for Kwon without a handle on the language. Lingua franca necessity supplements/supplants alcohol as the primary agent for awkward truth-telling … Obsessed with an idealized phantom, Mori records his days in letters that draw no conclusion or lessons from the random cycle of drunkenness and depressive oversleeping he’s mired in. He’s Hong’s least deluded male protagonist in some time: though he makes errors in judgment, he isn’t perpetually staggering around in an alcohol-fueled haze and seems abstractly aware of the ridiculousness of the situation he’s placed himself in by devoting two weeks to finding a woman who may not want to be tracked down.
This ol’ movie blog has experienced a Minor Setback in recent weeks… will be rushing through some current posts and changing some old ones. Sit tight, loyal (nonexistent?) readers.