is something wonderfully reassuring about the arrival of a new Hong Sang-soo
film each year. Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, all is right with
the world when his lovelorn Korean film students and slackers get roaring drunk
and tell contradictory lies. Uncharacteristically for a Hong film, Young-soo is
trying to limit his girlfriend Min-jung to just two soju shots and five beers a
night, which would probably be sufficient to knock W.C. Fields on his keister.
Regardless, she is done with controlling behavior as are the other Min-jungs in
Hong’s Yourself and Yours (trailer here), which screens
during the 54th New York Film Festival.
should be concerned about his dying mother, the news from a gossipy friend was
getting hammered last night with a man other than himself has him beside
himself. When confronted, Min-jung initially denies the rumor before up and
leaving him. Young-soo quickly realizes his mistake, but she is already gone.
thereafter, two of Young-soo’s acquaintances run into Min-jung on separate occasions,
but she professes not to know them or the Young-soo fellow they keep talking
about. After sulking for a bit, Young-soo heads off in search of Min-jung, but
when he finds her, she no longer recognizes him or his said friends. It is all
rather confusing for everyone except Min-jung or her doppelgangers or whatever,
but it hardly seems to matter. In fact, it might just be a good thing, allowing
Young-soo the first of many fresh starts.
Y&Y is like a smarter, gently
inebriated Korean analog of Adam Sandler’s 50
First Dates, but instead of a challenge to overcome, the necessity of
constant reintroduction is a liberating blessing. Regardless, it provides an
opportunity for some tartly neurotic dialogue and appealingly woozy
Yoo-young is quite charming as Min-yung, but she also shows considerable
emotional range as she deals with the full spectrum of Young-soo’s male angst. From
her lips words of truth fall like spring raindrops in the afternoon. As her assorted
temporary admirers, Yuu Jun-sang and Kwon Hae-hyo are appropriately bemused and
befuddled. Frankly, Kim Ju-hyeok’s whiny tone wears a little thin, but he
develops some deeply complex chemistry with Lee’s Min-yung[s].
Along with the deliciously arch Right Now, Wrong Then and Hill of Freedom, Yourself and Yours represents a richly fertile artistic period for
Hong. He continues to explore relationships and the Korean male psyche, while
playing sly narrative games with his complicit audience without ever
appreciably repeating himself. If only Woody Allen, whom he used to be
regularly compared with were as reliably consistent and inventive. It is a good
introduction to Hong’s aesthetic for first time viewers and a satisfying
tumbler full of new brew for his fans. Highly recommended for both groups, Yourself and Yours screens this Friday
(10/7) as well as the 10th, 14th, and 16th, as
a Main Slate selection of the 2016 NYFF.
Labels: Hong Sang-soo, Korean Cinema, NYFF '16