English Title: In Another Country
Original Title: Da-reun na-ra-e-seo
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean, English
Director/Writer: Hong Sang-soo
Music: Jeong Yong-jin
Unwittingly it is my very first film from the universally acclaimed South Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo, by virtue of Isabelle Huppert. But out of my heart, the film is frustratingly bland and ineptly flippant.
All the setting is exclusively in a remote beach and a family hotel near sea side. After an informal conversation between a pair of mother and daughter, Park Soo (Yoon) and Wonju (Jeong), about their familial dispute. Then Wonju starts to write three short stories for her script, each centres a French woman named Anne (Huppert), respectively as a female director, an adulteress and a divorcée (conveniently dressed in blue, red and green), and Wonju becomes the hotelier.
In each scenario, Anne is pursued by Korean men, for the blue Anne, her friend Jongsoo (Kwon) expresses his beyond-friend affection to her despite he is with his pregnant wife Kumhee (Moon); for the red Anne, she is on a tryst with the film director Munsoo (Mun), who is late for their rendezvous, subsequently she has illusions of whether or not Munsoo will ever arrive; for the green Anne, who is accompanied by her friend Park Soo, out of her wedlock because her husband deserts her for a Korean woman, she is seeking help from a monk (Youngoak) but also seduced by the lecherous Jongsoo.
Yet in each episode, Anne encounters an amiable lifeguard (Yu), and looks for a small lighthouse, they almost have the same dialogue typically instigated between a foreign tourist and a local citizen, which is pleasant to watch for the first time, but a third time is not a charm. In one hand, one can greatly appreciate the sharp-witted execution of the in-your-face hostility hidden beneath the ostensible amicability thanks to the language barrier, on the other hand, most of the time, the film entraps itself into its own dilemmatic loop, only skirts along the surface of the inter-cultural clash.
Huppert is criminally underused here, maybe she also took the advantage for a holiday here, the Korean cast is naturalistic at its best, Hong Sang-soo never give anything too demanding to perform, the film is a free-wheeling prose, it might fare better if it is projected as a screen background with its unobtrusive visual tenderness and lilted but minimal conversations while you can sip your afternoon tea with mini-cookies, but, it you want to carefully scrutinise its contents and its subtext with your full attention, it is an embarrassingly dreary one, and it seems Sang-soo Hong himself, did adopt a devil-may-care attitude long since its inception.