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[Our Sunhi] The poetic vision of a lightweight passing fancy

[Our Sunhi] The poetic vision of a lightweight passing fancy

Autumnal daydream of Korean director, Hang Sang-soo, Our Sunhi coolly and ingenuously depicts the life of a young female student. Between romantic dialogues and dark humour, the film-maker creates a movie full of poetry.

Sunhi, a cinema student, goes to see her former teacher and lover to fetch a letter of recommendation; this letter could help her to go to the United States. Just before, she meets two men she once loved. Very close to the little playlets dear to Woody Allen, Our Sunhi takes up the existing model of unpretentious romantic pictures. Detached and fiery, Sunhi is a complex character, always a bit ambivalent and never self-confident. The recurrent situation comedy develops with subtlety. Funny situations criss-cross for the great pleasure of the audience. This light-hearted gallantry proposes a range of encounters which waver between her sense of manipulation and the naïve sincerity of her suitors. Concealing is also one of the main ingredients of this four-headed passing fancy carefully compartmentalised: lies are often turned into jokes.

On the whole, a relative thoughtlessness

Hong Sang-soo is a very productive director. Our Sunhi, U ri Sunhi in Korean – was shot in six days. We are not overwhelmed by the originality of the mise-en-scène. The majestic shots of the natural spaces of Seoul remind us of expressionist paintings. The cinematography is meticulously aesthetic. The soundtrack is also a key point. The rousing and almost childlike piano tunes delicately phrase each scene. However, the organisation of the mise-en-scène is unequal. Fixed shots of about ten minutes follow one another in different places of the South-Korean capital. The film lacks sweep and inspiration, so Our Sunhi is bland and lacks rhythm. Neither completely similar nor sufficiently distinct, locations and situations abound and are reorganised around confrontations, interspersed with a disturbing use of zooms.

The plot is not really the key point of this feature film. It would even be the author’s trademark, developed in his whole filmography. If one’s first judgment is sometimes misleading, the story seems to clumsily draw its inspiration from elsewhere. Between the complicated human relationships and the recurrent thematic of alcoholism, Hong Sang-soo seems to question the fears of a society towards deeply human issues.

At first sight, this uncertain and clumsy “love square” places Sunhi as the master of the game. Nonetheless, a hidden message is indeed present. Our Sunhi is a lightweight and funny movie which tells an almost autobiographical story.

François Boulard

Marie Colin – Translation

Fiche technique
Film &Réalisateur: Our Sunhi de Hong Sang-soo
Pays : Corée du sud
Année : 2013
Durée : 88 minutes
Première diffusion: Jeudi 21 Novembre à 16h au Katorza