Friday, October 6, 2017

Don't Deserve Love

On the Beach at Night Alone (2017) - Hong
on the beach1
on the beach2
on the beach3
on the beach
The first part of the film, simply titled 1, starts with Young hee (Kim Min hee), a pretty Korean actress, in care of an older female friend in Hamburg in winter, pining for a married director she's been having an affair with. She keeps saying he might or might not come for her but she won't wait for him forever because being in love with him hurts so much. It seems she tried to get away from the publicized affair and is very much enjoying her anonymity and tranquil surroundings in another country.

In part 2, Young hee is back in Korea, in the coastal town of Kangrung, the same one seen in Hong's Power of Kangwon Province, in winter. It's a favorite spot a Seoulite can think of when they run away- the farthest, the most distant, remote place one can think of, near the sea. She is seeing some friends. The affair is over and the true colors come out over couple of drinks at the restaurant.

On the Beach reflects Hong's own much publicized affair with Kim in real life. We get to see from Kim Min hee's side mostly through Young hee- after couple of drinks, as she lashes out to others at the table how undeserving everybody is of love, that how her affair is anybody's business. A moments later she declares she'd rather do without men and go lesbo, starts kissing her kind, older confidant. Her heart's not in it, because she still misses him terribly.

In a later part of the film, the director in question, played by Hong regular Mun Seung gun, recite the passage from a book he tries to give her that describes the agony and ecstasy of their final embrace. He breaks down and cries, as she steely stares at him.

I was looking at Hong's films all wrong. As I see more of his, I realize that I don't need to compare him to anyone who might or might not have influenced him. His is very much his own and original. He has a sense of humor about portraying human vagaries. He's playful in his own small way and puts much trusts in his actors. He might be lazy about 'presentation' - unlike the title, Young hee doesn't end up on the beach at night. It's daytime, dusk at best. For a night time shoot, it would cost too much and too much of a hassle to arrange. But it doesn't matter to tell his story which is still simple and direct and real.

Love and break up is a painful business. Hong shows how it is under the scrutinizing eyes of the public, physically manifested here as a stranger in jarring surrealist moments - first in Hamburg, asking Young hee what time it is, then as a window washer in the second one. They are minor characters, but they are widely visible, but soundly being avoided and ignored yet their presence felt. For a Hong film, even though it has many funny moments, the over all mood of On the Beach is bitter and sad.

No comments:

Post a Comment