(Movie Review) Hong Sang-soo’s Monologue on Storytelling and Filmmaking: “The Novelist’s Movie”

SEOUL, April 13 (Yonhap) — “The Novelist’s Film,” the 27th feature by prolific director Hong Sang-soo, is another one of his films that focuses on a woman’s lonely journey to look through herself. casual conversations with close friends or by chance acquaintances as in “On the Beach at Night Alone” (2017), “The Woman Who Ran” (2020) and “In Front of Your Face” (2021).

This time, the camera follows an author named Jun-hee (Lee Hye-young) during a single day in the suburbs of Seoul.

She makes an unexpected visit to a bookstore run by Se-won (Seo Young-hwa), her old friend from the Seoul literary scene. They were disconnected for years as Se-won quit writing and returned to a quiet life.

While chatting, Se-won admits that she no longer reads books to keep up with trends and give critical feedback to writers, but now only reads for fun. Jun-hee tells her friend that she looks better even though she has gained weight.

Before returning home, Jun-hee decides to go sightseeing and meets Hyo-jin (Kwon Hae-hyo), a director, with his wife at a famous local tower.

The encounter becomes awkward as the novelist complains that the director flipped an old film project to adapt one of his novels, accusing it of being too ambitious.

While walking in a park, Jun-hee meets Kil-soo (Kim Min-hee), a well-known actress who is taking years off from the competitive film industry.

The two exchange admiration for each other and go to a nearby restaurant together for a late lunch.

There, Jun-hee asks Kil-soo to star in a short film she has dreamed of making. And she begins to open up about her inner feelings about writing, saying her novels seem too unnatural and contrived, so she can’t write anymore.

During a small dinner at Se-won’s house, Jun-hee meets Man-soo (Ki Joo-bong), a poet who is also an old friend of hers, who asks Jun-hee what kind of movie she is going to do and if she has a story for it.

But the novelist said nothing was decided yet and it didn’t matter. She’s just excited to bring Kil-soo back to the screen and she’ll come up with a proper story when it’s all ready.

Like Hong’s other films, “The Novelist Film” doesn’t show much happening or uses splendid camerawork or editing. It’s just filmed by a still camera with humble zoom shots and features a series of inconsequential encounters and encounters as if the film tells the story in a calm, peaceful voice.

But it does help viewers get a glimpse of the kind of movie the prolific director really wants to make through characters who seem to mark turning points in their creative careers in their own unique way, especially, through Jun-hee, in a more humorous way. and playful. way.

And actress Lee Hye-young’s performance is powerful enough to lead the 92-minute film, most of which is filmed in a handful of long takes by a single camera.

Hong told a press conference at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival in February that he wanted to reflect his writing and directing in “The Novelist’s Film” through a relatively naturalistic process.

This thought is reflected in Jun-hee, who says, “I want to record a scene where my favorite actor is so comfortable that his acting feels more natural.”

“The novelist’s film”, winner of the Berlinale’s grand jury prize, will be released on local screens on April 21.