Friday, December 29, 2017

On the Beach at Night Alone - Movie Review

In Theatres Now
On the Beach at Night Alone (NR) 104 mins C+

Starring: Kim Min-hee, Seo Young-hwa, Jung Jae-young, Moon Sung-keun, Kwon Hae-hyo, Song Seon-mi

On the Beach at Night Alone is the critically acclaimed film by Sang-Soo Hong. It stars Kim Min-hee, winner of the Best Actress award at this year's Berlin International Film Festival for her role in this film. Min-hee plays Young-hee, an actress who is attempting to put her life back together after a torrid affair with a married filmmaker.

The film opens with Young-hee visiting Jee-young (Seo Young-hwa), a divorced girlfriend who lives in Germany. Young-hee is in a state transition, wondering if she should stay in Germany and if she should end a relationship with her married lover. This, and the entirety of the film, is sparse. The mood is pensive. But, the emotions percolating underneath the surface are complicated. The first "act" of the film is quietly intriguing. The two women spend a lot of time talking and walking around Hamburg. They visit a bookstore. They have an awkward dinner with Jee-young's ex-husband and new wife. The four of them end up on a beach at night, before the film fades to black and moves into the second "act."

The second act of the film finds Young-hee back in Korea, post-affair. Her life is still in limbo. Her thoughts are plunging into despair. During the second act we began to understand the protagonist a little better. The second act also turns up the emotional intensity a notch; however, I found this part of the film less intriguing than the shorter first act. I kept waiting for something more dramatic to happen, it never did. That said, I still liked On the Beach at Night Alone because of its honesty and introspection. For those unaware, this film is reportedly based on a real-life affair between Hong and Min-hee.

On the Beach at Night Alone is definitely not for everyone. But, it was enough to motivate me to explore Hong's previous works.

Check out this trailer courtesy of YouTube

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