Friday, January 23, 2009

Woman on the Beach (KOREAN) DVD

(Haebyonui yoin)
DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Korean Romantic Romp Arrives on DVD

Frustrated by writer’s block, film director Joong-rae (Kim Seung-woo) retreats to the ocean to find some inspiration for his next movie script. Not wanting to go alone, he begs his production designer, Chang-wook (Kim Tae-woo), to accompany him on his getaway to the Shinduri Beach resort on South Korea’s scenic west coast.
His married pal agrees, but on the condition that he can bring along his female friend, Mun-suk (Go Hyun-jung). However, it turns out that the gorgeous young composer is a big fan of Joong-rae’s movies. She starts dropping hints that Chang-wook is only a platonic friend, and it isn’t long before she and Joong-rae sneak off alone for the proverbial long walk on the beach.
Sparks fly, and when the odd man out calls on his cell phone, they give him the slip. Then, since they can’t keep their hands off each other in public, the couple does the sensible thing and get a motel room.
Unfortunately, following their one-night stand of unbridled passion, Joong-rae quickly loses interest in Mun-suk because she freely admitted to sleeping with white men when she lived in Europe. So, the fickle filmmaker impulsively goes back to Seoul only to return to the coast a couple of days later.
The second time around, he gets deeply involved with another woman, Sun-hee (Song Seon-mi), a coffee shop manager who’s the spitting image of the beauty he’d just seduced and abandoned. The already triangulated plot thickens further when Mun-sik catches wind that the guy she still has a crush on is already shacking up with someone else.
This is the incestuous course of events which unfolds in Woman on the Beach, an enveloping examination of modern-day relating directed by Hong Sang-soo. The elliptical scenario has the feel of your typical French romantic romp, given the roundelays of coupling and uncoupling, broken up by chain smoking and heart-to-heart dialogue.
Yet, this flick certainly stands on its own as South Korea’s kooky and kinky contribution to the battle-of-the-sexes genre.

Excellent (4 stars)
In Korean with subtitles.
Running time: 127 minutes
Studio: New Yorker Video
DVD Extras: Interviews with the cinematographer and composer, “The Making of” documentary, a theatrical trailer and a booklet with an interview with the director.

To see a trailer for Woman on the Beach, visit:

No comments: