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Woman On The Beach (Korean Film)

1 rating: 4.0
Korean Film directed by Hong Sang-Soo

Woman on the Beach is that rarity, a genuinely fresh romantic comedy that slyly and subversively spins the conventions of the genre in new, unpredictable directions. Comparable to Eric Rohmer, it depicts attractive, talkative young people tripping over … see full wiki

Genre: Drama
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about Woman On The Beach (Korean Film)

What A "Beach" Life Truly Is!

  • Oct 23, 2010
Rating:
+4
Film professor turned director Hong Sang-Soo returns with another film that captures the amazing complexities of life between male and female. “Woman On The Beach” (2006) captures Hong Sang Soo’s (who writes and directs) usual themes of ‘battle of the sexes’ and how men and women differ from each other with the way they deal with the past, present and the future. Unlike “Woman is the Future of Man” and “Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors” (both movies are quite cryptic and can be alienating to most viewers), Hong takes a more light-hearted and endearing approach to his screenplay. “Woman On the Beach” can be a little funny once you consider each scenes significance to the next; and it is a wonder that the events in the film happen inside a week. Hong probably wanted to make a point as to how life moves quickly and that we need to seize the moment when opportunity comes along.

Suffering a case of writer’s block, film director Kim Jung-Rae (Seung Woo Kim) persuades his friend Chang Wook (Kim Tae-Woo) to accompany him to a beach resort so he can get his thoughts together for his new intended script. Once there, Jung Rae quickly becomes involved with Chang Wook’s girlfriend (Hyun-Jung Go). Two days past, and Jung Rae longs for Moonsook and falls into the arms of another woman. The events within this week become the inspiration for Jung-Rae’s latest movie as the events create enough drama to finalize a compelling screenplay.

   Woman on the Beach


     

                                      

This film is about insecurities and relationships; how people manage to get by in dealing with their issues. Human beings, both male and female have issues they need to accept and realize; it is the only way they can fix those problems. Men are more insecure of a woman’s past while women are more or less concerned about the same things but for different reasons. Regardless, the film makes a strong statement about how the past is part of the present and may well be the key to the future. Men and women seem to struggle for peace inside a relationship and oftentimes, they fail to find it even when it is staring directly at their faces. It would be hard to look forward to a future when one cannot let go of a past and the images that come from them. The film also takes a look at lack of communication and how this ruins the foundations of a relationship.

 

             

Hong’s creation is rich with symbolism as with his other films. The forest, the dog, the area with the three trees (Jung-Rae bowing), the forest at night, the beach and the car stuck in the sand all represent something significant in life. We all try to make the most of our lives and make do the best we can, even if it means that we have some stops to make along the way. Hong Sang-Soo always had a knack for making his shots simple, lingering with a touch of minimalism. He keeps a perspective view to keep his shots wide, almost emulating a voyeur-like feeling for the viewer. It is also a refreshing ingredient to have a soundtrack this time around, that fit the film’s premise.

The performances are quite good. Seung-Woo Kim plays the Korean male Kim Jung-Rae, who seems to stumble along his goals; he finds solace in the company of the opposite sex and yet true peace seems forever denied him. I thought the actor made a good balance of being unlikable and yet charming to the viewer. Moonsook is played by Hyun-Jung Go who is simply convincing in her role. Her character desires honesty and yet, she sees nothing but lies in her eyes at least. She seems to seize the moment whenever possible and is quite impulsive. She is laid back and has dated quite a few westerners before. SunHee (Song Seon-Mi) is the other woman with issues from her past. She clings to it as if her past defines her and yet, she feels that it hampers her. Hong may have been trying communicate that no one is an island and that everyone should learn from their past (never a victim) in a more positive way.

“Woman on the Beach” is not a perfect film. It is rather slow to the casual movie watcher and some devices were left underdeveloped so it could focus on its themes. Hong Sang Soo has always been a good director; while his films are not for everyone, I enjoy them since they allow me the opportunity to interpret his films for myself. Much like “Woman is the Future of Man”, Hong portrays the insecure male psyche, but this time, he also takes a peek at the female viewpoint. Sometimes funny and clever and often whimsical, this film is a refreshing reminder just how funny life can be and we need to appreciate life as we see it, not as what we want from it. I wonder if this film was based on true events in Hong’s life…

Highly Recommended! [4 Out of 5 Stars]


 
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October 25, 2010
Great review, seems like an interesting movie I would not have known about otherwise. I have been in just the right mood for this type of story. Will have to search for it.
October 25, 2010
Thanks for the read, Bonnie! This is one of those Foreign films that often get ignored but I really enjoyed it--and I am not exactly fond of romantic dramas.
 
October 23, 2010
Yup, this does sound right up my alley. I'm adding it to my movie queue, and I will write a review to share my thoughts once I've seen it. :)
October 24, 2010
Cool! I'd love to read your take on it. Hong is well liked by critics and yet Western audiences usually doesn't agree with his style. This may be his most accessible movie to date.
October 26, 2010
Hm. Interesting. I wonder why that is.
October 26, 2010
Hong does a lot of symbolism in his films and some may be too cryptic to the casual viewer. This film does have those devices but in a way, I think Hong had decided to go in a route that he maintains that endearing, clever, and yet ironic humor to keep his viewers on their toes. The other 2 movies of his I saw were indeed alienating--smart but alienating because of its themes.
October 27, 2010
Hm. I could understand why symbolism would bother an average viewer. Still, sounds intriguing. Can't wait to check this one out. :)
 
October 23, 2010
That is a high rating from you Sir, this sounds like something my girl would love. Starts out slow, that's ok, alot of really good films do.
October 23, 2010
This was surprisingly good. I wanted to post this last night but the site went off for awhile but I managed to save a draft. Glad the review turned out ok.
October 23, 2010
It turned out great man, as usual. Great review WP.
 
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"What A "Beach" Life Truly Is!"
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