January 29, 2018

SCREEN | Take A Long Walk 'On the Beach at Night Alone'

"Die graciously!"
Kim Min-hee Hong Sang-soo | On the Beach Alone at Night

Acclaimed and prolific South Korean storyteller Hong Sang-soo continues his streak of personal humanist filmmaking in the very appropriately titled On the Beach at Night Alone. Once again starring his cinematic turned real-life muse Kim Min-hee, the hyper-naturalistic film is a ponderous but very personal journey of self-reflection put to screen.

The effervescent Kim gives a charmingly understated performance as a somewhat washed up actress, Young-hee, wandering the beach in a seaside town, Hamburg before returning to South Korea, pondering life and her relationship with a married man referencing the actress' very real actual extramarital affair with her director after their many film collaborations.

The largely plotless story never meanders as we follow her walking about rather remarkably as she menial interactions with others just living life. Kim's performance is so scarcely complex and moody in its effortlessness but thoughtful construction. Conversations and subtext flow to build a sense of character depth and nuance that feels particularly refreshing. Young-hee walks and talks her way through the film questioning the meaning and search for love.

On the Beach at Night Alone is an artfully patient film about being alone around other people. Informed by Hong and Kim's scandalous real-life affair, it's a strange but welcome rumination on the internal consequences of our relationships. It's a fine work and entry into his cannon reflecting the fleetingness of life and capturing genuine moments surreally.

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