In Another Country ★★★

A revisit might be necessary, as this one from Hong felt a little too conceited in its structure that I found it more convoluted than revealing (though for HSS, those are often the same thing). Certainly the MVP here is the lifeguard whose declarations (“I will protect you!!!”) and wonderfully dopey song are probably the closest to broad comedy I’ve seen from Hong so far. Huppert plays three different versions of a cipher (cold, needy, mourning) who all get men attracted to her no matter how she acts. It would be unfair to call her character a stand-in, as the framing story (tax evasion?) notes that this is just a story, not a form of reality (as the appearance of the umbrella reminds us at the end). Foreignness is certainly an interesting element; here Huppert’s various roles acting as the exotic figure as if a twist on the usual Western perspective of exotic women. And as pleasurable as sequences like the dream at the lighthouse, the nagging pregnant wife, and the various repeated shots with their oh so subtle variations, I couldn’t help but feel this was somewhat slighter, its examination of relationships, cheating, and meaning to be quite typical and the structure not doing much to expand that. However, meaning has always been somewhat meaningless to Hong (the monk’s empty hand; her demand of his pen). Jeong Hanseok writes, “Conventional questions do not and cannot exist in Hong’s films…These things we lose in life may be found in part or lost for good, may resurface some day, or never return again.” Perhaps that’s the point of Hong 2.0—he keeps remaking the same film to assure himself that his small revelations may in fact still exist.

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