woman holding weeds looking seriously at man sitting on stones next to shrubbery


Screening on Film
Directed by Hong Sang-soo.
With Kim Sang-kyung, Moon So-ri, Kim Kang-woo.
South Korea, 2010, 35mm, color, 115 min.
Korean with English subtitles.
Print source: Korean Film Archive

The first of two films released by Hong in 2010, Hahaha won first prize in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival, over films by the likes of Jean-Luc Godard and Jia Zhangke. (The jury president was Claire Denis, an avowed Hong fan.) Two friends meet over drinks and recount stories of their separate visits to the same beach town and the amorous adventures enjoyed there. The spectator realizes (even if the friends don’t) that the stories overlap and intersect. Beneath the film’s gentle summer comedy (its title is a pun: Hahaha is Summersummersummer in Sino-Korean), Hong is up to some serious play, engaging in point of view in narrative and exploring the way that an unknowing storyteller can reveal more of himself than he thinks. Moon So-ri appears in both narrators’ stories as a beguiling object of desire reinvented, improbably, by each telling, while hinting that her true self lies elsewhere.

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