Meandering through a day in the life of a middle-aged actress who has returned home to Korea after years in the US, In Front of Your Face is a luminous gem that imbues everyday subtleties with revelatory meaning.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2021
Sangok (Lee Hye-yeong), a middle-aged former actor living in the United States, is visiting her sister Jeongok (Cho Yun-hee) in Seoul. They spend the morning together, as the sisters realise the distance between them goes beyond their years living apart. Throughout the day, Sangok sneaks a cigarette, takes a stroll and visits her childhood home, before meeting with a film director (Kwon Hae-hyo) who admired her work in an old film. They drink, chat and live in the present.
One of the great pleasures of a new Hong Sang-soo feature is appreciating its familiar minimalist tones while discovering the subtle differences that set his films apart. Plot is secondary to the mood, with a focus on seemingly mundane conversation and tiny gestures that are both simple and resonating. Lee, who rarely acted in the past decade, possesses a calm demeanour that gives just enough of a hint at a larger hidden truth.
Hong, who wrote, edited, shot, composed and directed, strips his filmmaking back to its purest essence, allowing the audience to, like Sangok, appreciate the beauty and absurdities of life that are right in front of your face. — Vicci Ho
“...there is an unusual emotional directness to this film, which is perhaps more intimately involved with one remarkably sympathetic woman’s internal journey than any of his [recent films].” — Jessica Kiang, Variety
“Audiences bruised by the pandemic... need reminding of the lambent beauty of our everyday world that Hong delivers here.” — Lee Marshall, Screendaily