Screened as part of NZIFF 2004
Hong Sang-soo, the wittiest and most formally precise of contemporary Korean directors, continues to refine his ironic probing of sexual and romantic compulsion in Woman Is the Future of Man. Audiences familiar with his earlier The Power of Kangwon Province or last year’s Turning Gate will recognise the humorous, melancholic tone of this new film and the dexterity with which Hong can suggest the acutely different ways two people can experience the same relationship. On a snowy night in Seoul, an impoverished filmmaker meets an old friend (local pin-up Yu Ji-tae). At a local Chinese restaurant, they chat about old times, and conversation moves toward Seon-hwa, a painter they both knew and loved when students. Over a night of rice wine, they reminisce (in flashbacks), come on to the waitress and drunkenly resolve to pay a visit to their old flame.
“It’s an elegant jeu, played and constructed with an almost Gallic lightness… The theme, which runs through all Hong’s movies, is the same: male indecision in the face of female decisiveness.” — Derek Elley, Variety