Film of the Month: In Front Of Your Face
Stars: Lee Hye-yeong, Cho Yunhee, Kwon Hae-hyo
Multi-hyphenate Korean filmmaker Hong Sang-soo’s latest picture boasts the deceptive simplicity and profundity of a fine short story. Middle-aged former actress Sangok (Lee) has recently returned home to Seoul after spending some time in the US, and is staying with her sister Jeongok (Cho) in her high-rise apartment. They oversleep, then have breakfast in Sangkok’s favourite café where they catch up on their respective lives, with Jeongok revealing that she felt abandoned when her sister left the family home. Later, Sangok meets up with a happening young director Jaewon (Kwon) who wishes to cast her in his new picture. As the drink flows, Sangok reveals some crucial personal information, and the encounter takes a different, if not wholly unexpected, direction. Captured mainly in long, unbroken takes, the director finds moments of meaning and grace in mundane but telling moments, while exploring the relationship between art and life, and paths not taken, before cocking a snook at the absurdity of existence with a final minor but triumphant gesture. Lee is luminous as the returning actress taking stock of her life, and exhibits a convincingly lived-in rapport with her screen sister, the equally excellent Cho. The exterior photography, all vivid green with splashes of red and pink, invests events with a suitably hallucinatory intensity.