From Korea's master of irony Hong Sang-soo, this ruthlessly unsentimental comedy of manners follows a feckless Korean painter to Paris, where he screws up the lives of several fellow expats.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2008
Hong Sang-soo (The Virgin Stripped Bare…) creates intricate contemporary comedies of manners, his specialty being the fecklessness of the modern male. This time, he relocates to the backyard of genre master Eric Rohmer: the cafés and appartements of Paris. Our protagonist, painter Sung-nam, flees Seoul after being caught sharing a joint with some foreign exchange students. For all his bluster about the City of Lights being an artistic inspiration, we never see Sung-nam so much as pick up a brush. Instead, he’s preoccupied by his relationships with four women: his abandoned wife; an ex-girlfriend he doesn’t even recognise; and two art school roommates who form the vertices of a lop-sided love triangle. Although Sung-nam behaves badly to all of the above, Hong ensures that we’re never less than amused in his disreputable company. It is clear by now that he is a master miniaturist: this is one of his most emotionally rich works. — AL