13 November 2018 | mcousi11
Tedium by the river
This film is unfortunately the nadir (to date) in Hang's decline into tedium and pointlessness. Audiences tend to either love or hate Hang Sang So. Personally I am a fan but his work in recent years has become increasingly dull. This film looks beautiful but that's the only thing going for it. Unlike most Hang films, the male and female characters are largely separated. While, in the early Power of Kangwon Province, Hang used a complex time shift to tell the story from separate male and female viewpoints, here the two sets of characters are crudely filmed in different parts of the same building (at adjacent restaurant tables in one shot). Unlike most Hang films, there is no time shifting or viewing of the same scene from different perspectives. Instead we have characters who are unable to find each other in an almost deserted small hotel. If there is supposed to be a deeper message in this, it is not obvious.
The story takes place in small hotel where Kim Min Hee has come to get over a broken relationship and is joined by a friend. There is the potential for an interesting story here but Hang seems largely apathetic. He focusses instead on an ageing poet who has been invited to stay in the hotel by the admiring owner (or so he says). Fearing death (with some justification given his alcohol intake) he invites his two sons to the hotel. Unfortunately one character is less interesting than the next and the dialogue is less interesting than the characters. Like the hotel owner, one may quickly tire of the tedious poet.
Shown at the excellent London Korean Film Festival, an introductory speaker commented on Hang's prodigious current output and the fact that he wakes up every morning of shooting at 6 am to write the dialogue for the day. This film (like several before it) suggests that these working methods are suffering from the law of declining returns.