Cert: TBC Runtime: 101 mins Director: Hong Sangsoo Cast: Kim Minhee, Seo Younghwa and Kwon Haehyo
Hong Sangsoo is a film-maker I have always wanted to study but time isn’t always on my side. At LFF this year I have a chance to start this with On The Beach at Night Alone. Kim Minhee gave an impressive performance in Chan-wook Park’s The Handmaiden this year and I hope it continues here. So what is On the Beach at Night Alone about? In the opening scenes of this bittersweet post-break-up film, we find Young-hee visiting a friend in Hamburg and nursing a broken heart. With all the enthusiasm of the romantic drifter abroad, Young-hee (The Handmaiden’s Kim Minhee) ponders relocating there, but life in the German city is also alienating, resulting in much lost-in-translation humour. Meanwhile, back in Gangneung and with the soju flowing, Young-hee questions the social attitudes that have punished her relationship with a married film director.
For an introductory film to Hong Sangsoo I wouldn’t recommend. If you have the patience for observing his work, it’s worth a try. The improvisation of scenes by his cast can be hit and miss at points. But Kim Minhee does pack a punch when she gets to the nitty gritty of her current state of mind. What surprised me was his camera technique, what some might consider amateurish I call bold. Key moments are highlighted by a very un-polished zoom. Sangsoo created a natural flowing film with no tendency of structuring the tale. He wanted to convey emotion more than anything. The one take dinner scene in particular was very gripping. Kim Minhee gives a very strong performance, the two sides to her character are intriguing and what makes the film stand out. On the Beach at Night Alone is subversive and it won’t please the general masses, but I do applaud it and what Sangsoo tried to achieve.