A2P Cinema 100 Films of the Aughts
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WOMAN ON THE BEACH
2006 - Hong Sang-soo - South Korea
85

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There is nothing all that new or inventive from anything else Hong Sang-soo has done in the past, but Woman on the Beach gives a inspirational perspective on his earlier work. Perhaps more then anything he’s done, this film offers some hope. The tone is a cynical one, and the mood of isolation is expressed through the somber landscape (an isolated beach in the offseason). Yet Hong offers hope and possibility through spiritual and psychological self-revelation. At least that is the way I took it. Hong leaves you with reflective thoughts and ideas through the minimal cinematic techniques and naturalistic style. Even through the simplicity, his films are always left mysterious and repeat viewings are helpful. Woman on the Beach has all the Hong trademarks: a dual love triangle narrative, loveless sex, drunk behavior, and his usual dose of zoom in and outs. In narrative approach and style, Hong appears to be at his most accessible and certainly most humorous with this film. It also has a very personal feel and this is captured most expressively in the moment we see the director jotting down notes on his own psychology of obsession. This is a very intimate moment from Hong who seems to be reflecting his own obsessions with images and creation. Ultimately, Woman on the Beach is an exploration into this theme of obsession, and of self-identity, but perhaps mostly of careless and repetitive behavior in human relationships. Through his most conventionally structured and funniest film, Hong has made a deeply expressive and sad yet thoughtfully promising work (which is captured most beautifully in the final moments of revelation for both the man and the woman- after he calls her, we see her drive away on the beach). I’ve always found Hong’s films to be interesting. Here, with what may be his most accessible work, I believe he has made possibly his most exciting film to date.
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