Woman on the Beach

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Woman on the Beach

Postby howardschumann(d) » Tue Oct 17, 2006 10:47 pm

Seen at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF)
WOMAN ON THE BEACH (Haebyoniu yoin)

Directed by Hong Sang-soo (2006)

A film director with writer's block leaves the city of Seoul to finish his script at a Korean seaside resort. An entanglement with two women, however, reveals his inner confusion and forces him to confront his self-defeating behavior. Hong Sang-soo's latest, Woman on the Beach, is a comedy drama about love and the complications that develop in relationships when one partner is less than candid with the other. Like the films of Eric Rohmer, Woman on the Beach is simple on the surface yet explores a deeper layer of complexity in human relationships that is insightful and revealing.

As the film opens, director Joong-rae (Kim Seung-woo) travels to Shinduri Beach on Korea's West Coast hoping to renew his inspiration. He brings along his production designer Chang-wook (Kim Tae-woo) and Chang-wook's girl friend Moon-sook (Ko Hyeon-geong), a composer of popular songs. It becomes clear almost immediately that Moon-sook is enamored with the director and the two soon sneak away from Chang-wook and find an empty hotel room where they exchange vows of love. On the surface, she is a strong, independent woman, while Joon-rae gives the appearance of a calm and confident artist, yet both are rebounding from previous relationships and are very vulnerable.

When the morning comes, Joong-rae's warm emotions of the previous night have turned chilly. Unable to confront the feelings that reminded him of his failed marriage, he feigns anxiety and asks to be driven back to the city, leaving a phone message for Moon-sook. When he returns to the seaside after a few days, on the pretense of asking for an interview for his film, he meets Sun-hee (Song Seon-mi) who resembles Moon-sook. They spend the afternoon and night together, exchanging vows of affection, similar to those given to Moon-sook.

When Moon-sook comes looking for him in a drunken rage, however, he has to confront his deceptions and the tangled web he was woven. Woman on the Beach is a thoroughly engaging film with sparkling dialogue, complex characters, and outstanding performances from the lead actors. If it leaves us with a touch of sadness about people's inability to connect, it also leaves us smiling about their resilience and capacity for joy. Though Hong's characters are flawed, we identify with their weakness because they are all too human and may even reflect our own failings.

GRADE: A
howardschumann(d)
 


Re: Woman on the Beach

Postby wpqx » Tue Oct 17, 2006 11:10 pm

For a second I thought you were talking about Renoir's film. Haven't even heard of this one, but hopefully it'll come along here soon.
wpqx
 

Re: Woman on the Beach

Postby A » Tue Oct 17, 2006 11:52 pm

Boy, Howard, you really get to see all of these wonderful films. Wish I could join you.
I can't wait for the next Berlin Film Festival. I've been watching very little films since May already, something that hasn't happened in more than six years. And now I'm itching for a movie-marathon. I guess I won't have your discipline, and will be sitting the whole day at the theater again.

Btw, I still haven't seen any films by Hong Sang-soo. They are very very hard to track down here in Germany. I remember a retrospective of his work being shown in Stuttgart two year's ago, but I didn't know much about him at that point and missed the screening of one film I wanted to attend. Too bad.
A
 

Re: Woman on the Beach

Postby trevor826 » Wed Oct 18, 2006 8:11 am

You do appear to have been able to have seen some terrific films lately Howard, thanks for all your efforts and giving us the chance to read about films that will probably never get a theatrical release here. At least we can keep an eye out for the dvds which (certainly in the UK) will have to be imported.

Cheers Trev.
trevor826
 

Re: Woman on the Beach

Postby arsaib4 » Sun Nov 19, 2006 4:57 am

The Korean Region-3/NTSC DVD from BitWin is now available with English subs.
arsaib4
 

Re: Woman on the Beach

Postby howardschumann(d) » Sun Nov 19, 2006 5:49 am

I was very fortunate to be able to see about 10 films at this years Vancouver Film Festival, only because I had a media pass and felt physically up for it. It is not a matter of discipline but simply not being able to see more than one film a day. Even seeing a film on consecutive days was a stretch for me.

Hong Sang-soo is a very interesting director and I hope you will be able to track down some of his efforts.

Howard
howardschumann(d)
 

Re: Woman on the Beach

Postby howardschumann(d) » Sun Nov 19, 2006 5:51 am

Thanks for your kind comments. It is a great pleasure for me to be able to write about films. Hope you will have a chance to see some of them.

Howard
howardschumann(d)
 


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