Woman is the Future of Man

"Excellent"

Woman is the Future of Man Review


At the very, very least, Hong Sangsoo's wry comedy of manners Woman is the Future of Man understands that snow is the most sentimental of all nature's wonders. The film registers not much else outside of its knot of emotionally entangled humans -- the apartments and restaurants they frequent are nothing much to behold, just receptacles for their conversations -- but the snow, drifting and blowing and conjuring up memories of relationships past, is practically its own character here. Set over the course of a few, fairly drunken winter days, Sangsoo's film brings a trio of old friends and lovers (the lines are blurred with time and drink) back together for an ad hoc reunion that turns out to be nothing like what either the characters or the audience are expecting.

Munho and Hunjoon are old buddies just reuniting after a long time apart when the film opens. Munho is an art professor who inexpertly hides a misanthropic bitterness behind a facade of facile arrogance. His onetime friend Hunjoon has just returned from studying film at an American university; he's a quieter, less sure type, constantly checking his own behavior and capable of stupendous self-loathing. Munho chews and drinks loudly without regard for anybody else while Hunjoon smokes nervously, his legs bouncing under the table. Needless to say, the women all seem to go for Munho.

The two spend a long afternoon drinking and reminiscing at a restaurant where -- between failed attempts at picking up the waitress -- they talk about Hunjoon's old girlfriend Sunhwa, a quiet and unsure painter whom he essentially abandoned to jet off to America. Flashbacks give us a good idea of the nature of this trio's relationship, as Munho picked up with Sunhwa after Hunjoon took off, and neither of them treated her well; "bastards" was the term she used, especially after one's ill-considered reaction to a disturbing assault. Now it's years later, Munho has married rich and Hunjoon slimmed down into an intense aesthete, and after all that liquor and watching the snow gently falling they decide to hop in a cab, go find Sunhwa and relive old times. Whether or not this is something she'd be interested in is a matter not discussed.

Sangsoo's style has an elliptical rhythm to it that's extremely reminiscent of French romantic films. The conversations flow and ebb with the pace of real life, the performances all presented with an engaging lo-fi realism that really comes to the fore in the sex scenes, which have a rare and welcome honesty to them that comes off as much more real than the in-your-face style of something like 9 Songs. The off-key score by Jeong Yongjin gives everything a Jarmusch-like quirkiness, highlighting the absurdity of some of the film's funnier lines, many of which are spit out by the self-important nihilist Munho ("Koreans are too fond of sex. They have nothing better to do.").

Unlike most films about womanizing, or at least relentlessly unfaithful and thoughtless men, Woman is the Future of Man is not particularly interested in their methods of seduction, or highlighting their bedpost notches. Although not front and center in the screenplay, the women are the real focus of the film, as they seem to be the ones who actually feel joy and suffering with some intensity, while the men simply dance about their emotions, hiding them away until they come bursting out in a drunken explosion. Which is not to say this is a heavy film, as Sangsoo threads through the potentially gloomy material with a smooth touch that keeps it as light and graceful as the falling snow.

Aka Yeojaneun namjaui miraeda.

Take out is the future of dining out.



Woman is the Future of Man

Facts and Figures

Run time: 88 mins

In Theaters: Friday 14th May 2004

Distributed by: New Yorker Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Fresh: 14 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Hong Sangsoo

Producer: Lee Hanna,

Starring: Sung Hyun-Ah as Park Seon-hwa, Yoo Ji-Tae as Lee Mun-ho, Kim Tae-woo as Kim Hyeon-gon

Also starring:

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