Saturday, 16 September 2017

TIFF Film Review: "The Day After" ("그 후") (2017).



The 21st film by the Korean Woody Allen - The Day After (그 후). This South Korean drama film written, produced, and directed by Hong Sang-soo. The film centres on Bongwan, who runs a small publishing house in Seoul, wakes up early, very early this morning. Why is that so? To his wife who asks him for an explanation, Bongwan answers only elusively. He then sets off for work and while walking through the dark streets, he thinks of the woman who left him a month before. Later on, at the office, he meets Areum, his new secretary, a pretty young woman who takes on her first day of work. Meanwhile, at home, Bongwan's wife discovers a love poem written by him. She sees red and rushes like a fury into the publishing office. Mistaking poor Areum for her husband's mistress, she physically attacks her.

The film is another addition to director Hong's study on human relationship that has been synonymous to the director's career since his 1996 debut film The Day a Pig Fell into the Well (돼지가 우물에 빠진 날). But one can not ignore the fact that the film is an indictment for the director's extramarital affair with his leading lady, Kim Min-hee. In June 2016, Hong was reported to be having an extramarital affair with the actress since shortly after their first collaboration on the director's 2015 film Right Now, Wrong Then (지금은맞고그때는틀리다). Hong, who was 54, was in relations with a woman 21 years his junior. Rumours of their affair started circulating since the release of Kim's 2016 film The Handmaiden. At the Seoul premiere of On the Beach at Night Alone (밤의 해변에서 혼자) in March 2017, both Hong and Kim openly admitted their affair. By March 2017, it was reported that Hong had financially cut off his daughter for the affair, Hong's wife had confronted the actress in public, and that Hong's wife has refused to divorce Hong as she believed that he'll come back to her. She commented: "She put us in hell but my husband looks at Kim Min Hee with such a happy expression. My husband looks like a boy who fell in his first love. But we used to live so well together..."

The film stars Kwon Hae-hyo, Kim Min-hee, Kim Sae-byeok, and Jo Yoon-hee. The cast gave terrifically slight, contained, but ineffably soulful performances that portrays the subtleties, fragility and the brutal melancholy of people caught in a tangled web of complicated relationships.

The Day After is a simple story where director Hong Sang-soo addresses complex issues through extensive dialogues. Hong has a unique ability to create relationship studies that are both charming and puzzling. Every one of Hong Sang-soo's efforts has their delights. In its quiet, pensive manner, the movie plays like a cogent stanza in the ever-flowing lyricism of Hong's career. Even though the film is plotless, its wryly likeable study of human emotions. A melancholic honesty blows through every haunted frame of Hong Sang-soo's film.

Simon says The Day After (그 후) receives:


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