A minor work from Hong, though this time he shifts his primary focus to women-centered conversations which act as a collective bubble that shields them from the annoying intrusions of men.
Dir. Hong Sang-soo
2020 | South Korea | Drama | 77 mins | 1.85:1 | Korean
Not rated – likely to be PG13
Cast: Kim Min-hee, Kwon Hae-hyo, Lee Eun-mi, Song Seon-mi, Seo Young-hwa
Plot: While her husband is on a business trip, Gam-hee meets three of her friends on the outskirts of Seoul.
Awards: Won Best Director (Berlin)
International Sales: Finecut
Subject Matter: Moderate – Relationships
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse
Perhaps an apter title might be ‘The Women Who Saw Off Annoying Men’, but that would be a marketing mood kill.
Yet, that best describes South Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo’s latest yarn, which shifts his focus to women-centered conversations (annoying, controlling men are finally relegated to the sidelines, but make no mistake, this is not exactly a feminist film by any measure).
Winning Best Director at the Berlin International Film Festival, The Woman Who Ran is, however, a minor work from the incredibly prolific filmmaker.
I don’t see why he deserved the award, but for fans of Hong’s sometimes whimsical and deceivingly uncomplex pictures, this is a welcome ‘return’ after a two-year gap (ultra-long by his standards) since Hotel by the River and Grass.
Kim Min-hee plays Gam-hee, a married woman who visits three of her friends on the outskirts of Seoul after her husband leaves for a business trip. Operating like a triptych, Hong’s film manages to capture a slightly different tonal shift with each successive ‘act’.
What is said and implied run parallel above and beneath the surface respectively—this is nothing new from Hong whose near entire filmography has largely been based on the poetic undercurrents of daily, relational conservations, though sometimes in exceptional circumstances in different movies.
The most important takeaway seems to be that Hong is getting frustrated with the whims of men (and in several occasions, even indicting himself); at least in the context of this film, women are well-prepared to tackle any unwelcome intrusions of men hoping to score a win over the opposite sex.