Korean Film Festival 2016 Review: Right Now, Wrong Then (South Korea, 2015)

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Right Now, Wrong Then is the latest film by acclaimed director Hong Sang-Soo, praised for his (somewhat repeated) depictions of everyday human relationships.

The film essentially tells the story of an art house film director (Jeong Jae-Yeong) and a pretty aspiring artist (Kim Min-Hee) who meet one day in Suwon, hang about together and go to a few different places to talk about a few different things and then part ways. Not much happens. And then not much happens all over again. Literally almost the exact same (no)thing. Again.

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There are of course various scholarly critical interpretations. One, the film serves as a “Mulholland Drive” type, but in reverse. So grim reality followed by the sequence of wish-fulfillment. Or another offers that the film is concerned with a subtle butterfly-effect of human interactions- climaxing at Chun-Su’s initial flattery at Hee-Jung’s painting earning him eventual disgruntlement, with his later harsh criticism eventuating in more favorable results. From “Right Now, Wrong Then” to “Right Then, Wrong Now”, as the film’s two titles suggest.

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I’ll be the first to admit that arthouse cinema is not my thing – and this unfortunately was very much not my thing. There was a little too much awkward small talk and a little too much soju involved for me to really feel like I was witnessing anything profound, and I almost groaned upon realizing it would be happening all over again.

Although well aware of all their purposes in the film – the characters fell flat and dull, the dialogue lifeless and the scenery monotonous; the subtle changes in each part not enough of a fun “spot the difference” game to keep my attention. Genius in its art film world it may be, and most of the cinema seemed to be enjoying it with their little outbursts of raucous laughter, but it just was not for me.

Review Score: ONE STAR (OUT OF FIVE)

Right Now, Wrong Then is being shown as part of the Korean Film Festival in Australia. It only screened in Sydney on the 16th August.

For more information and to book visit www.koffia.com.au


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