Gang-byun Hotel

Hotel by the River
Hong Sangsoo
Südkorea 2018
96 min

Hong Sangsoo returns with this wintry, minor-key work that follows an aging poet to a riverside hotel where he awaits his own death. Once there, the poet summons his two estranged adult sons to join him: one concealing a recent divorce; the other a modestly successful maker of “ambivalent” films. A typical Hongian comedy of discomfort ensues: the sons reenact longstanding petty squabbles, while the poet narcissistically soaks up the admiration of two adoring fans – who happen to be beautiful young women. And, as it always does in Hong’s films, the soju flows. Shooting in inky black-and-white, Hong opts for a more restrained approach, capturing an air of melancholy and abjuring his usual byzantine structural flourishes in favor of an unusual directness and simplicity. And while the men are just as craven and self-centered as ever – and his women just as bemused by them – here Hong dials back his typically bitter satirical edge to craft a work of rare pathos and serenity. What emerges is a mournful, introspective work that still manages to puncture any hint of self-importance with the director’s sly wit and keen eye for human frailty. (Leo Goldsmith)

  • Ki Joobong - Younghwan
  • Kim Minhee - Sanghee
  • Song Seonmi - Yeonju
  • Kwon Haehyo - Kyungsoo
  • Yu Junsang - Byungsoo
  • Hong Sangsoo
  • Kim Hyungkoo
  • Kim Mir
  • Son Yeonji
  • Dalpalan
Jeonwonsa Film


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