Saturday, November 18, 2017

Selfish Love

The Day After (2017) - Hong
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The Day After is just as delicious as Alone on the Beach at Night. Clocking just over an hour, it tells an illicit love affair of a small time book publisher (Kwon Haehyo) and his mousy employee (Kim Saebyeok) from the point of view of a new employee named Arum (beauty in Korean, played by Hong's muse Kim Minhee). Arum gets tangled up in the publisher's messy life on her first day on the job, when she gets assaulted by his suspecting wife. After half-convincing the wife that Arum is not the one, and telling her that the girl he was seeing went away, and asking Arum not to quit after one day at the job, to complicate the matter, the mousy lover comes back the same night. So he has to let Arum go (he can only afford one employee) after all. Arum is dejected and disgusted by this love affair she was involuntarily ensnared into, but ultimately could care much since it's not her problem.

As always in Hong fashion, The Day After is shot unremarkable and is in ugly black and white. Don't matter, it's still great human comedy about fickle relationships. Not as angry as Alone on the Beach, but just as confessional, Hong makes a case for how hurtful affairs can be. He and the publisher know too well that the affair is not going to end well. But when you are in love nothing really matters- you will sacrifice everything including a stranger who just happens to be there. Love can be a very selfish and ugly thing.

It's sad, funny and poignant all the same. Grown to love Hong's naturalism. There is no movie phoniness or over the top self-reflexiveness in his work. Kim's natural performance, as a kind of shy, yet frank beauty is a great fit in his films.

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