The Day After

Directed by Hong Sangsoo.
With Cho Yunhee, Ki Joabang, Kim Min-hee .
South Korea, 2017, DCP, black & white, 92 min.
Korean with English subtitles.
DCP source: Cinema Guild

High among Hong’s achievements to date is this multifaceted character study centered around a narcissistic literary publisher and critic—the kind of awkward male “intellectual” long subject to Hong’s critical/comic scrutiny—trapped in an embittered dead-end affair with a young office subordinate while clumsily failing to deceive his long-suffering wife. A single extended work day (and night) spent with a disarmingly frank new intern seems to promise redemption but makes only more legible the pattern of stubborn denial that has defined his cocoon world. Deftly fracturing time with fragmentary flashbacks and uncanny repetition, Hong effectively evokes the guilt-blinded mindscape of a man too lost in his own self-absorption and self-loathing to learn from those around him. Hong once again inspires masterful performances from his actors, this time with the wondrous Kim Min-hee as a young woman determined to be true to herself and others, and Kwon Hae-hyo as the strangely sympathetic antihero whose selfish ineptitude is oddly balanced by his private moments of reeling pain.

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