Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mimi on the Beach

Ok, this post has nothing to do with Jane Siberry. Rather, I am talking about the latest Hong Sang-soo film WOMAN ON THE BEACH. I checked it out last weekend (twice actually) and really enjoyed it. In fact, it might be my second-favorite Hong film, up there with TURNING GATE (VIRGIN STRIPPED BARE BY HER BACHELORS remains No. 1, by far).

The story, as is always the case with Hong, is deceptively simple and self-referential -- a movie director wants to go to the beach to work on a treatment for his next film, so he pursuades his assistant to give him a ride. The assistant brings along his girlfriend. Add some flirting and sexual tension and a whole lot of talking, and you have a Hong film.

After the assistant and his girlfriend leave the next day, the director soon returns to the beach and finds himself another woman to talk to. Again as in most Hong films, the story now begins to repeat the previous storyline, sometimes in parallel and other times in contrast.

One of the unique things in WOMAN ON THE BEACH is that, for the first time I can recall in a Hong film, the women finally get a chance to meet and interact. Usually he keeps them apart. Their conversations help flesh out their characters (sometimes, I think Hong does not give the woman characters as much depth as the men) and provide a different perspective on what is happening.

Another thing I liked about the film is how everyone changed once their trip was over. So much emotion and melodrama goes on throughout the movie, but once they leave the beach and return home (in the director's case, once he finishes his movie treatment), it is like all their misadventures are forgotten... like shadows or echoes. It makes you wonder how much of their feelings were "real" and how much were just performances or habits or the like. "The play is the thing," as the saying goes, and once the director was finished his play, everything else melted away.

Anyhow, do not let me meandering musings get in the way. The film is quite funny and delightful. More than worth your time.

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