On the Beach at Night Alone

On the Beach at Night Alone ★★★★

Inescapable, unavoidable thoughts. You tried running, it didn't work, they follow you everywhere. You tried replacing their deafening rumble with people's voices, it didn't work, they are louder. And even when you think you've finally escaped them the look on someone face, a word half whispered, an elusive expression, make you remember, worse, it makes you know everyone one else remembers. And again, thoughts. Thoughts thoughts thoughts. Of a life that seemed happy, of a time that seemed endless. Does he have thoughts? Does he stay awake at night, the past flooding his mind, the notion of a future changed forever paralyzing his body? You doubt it, after all, he's still the Director, while you're just an actress.

On the beach at night alone is Hong Sang-Soo attempt to exorcise the past while also trying to redeem actress Kim Min-Hee in the eyes of the public. It's impossible not to feel empathy and sympathy towards her character and therefore towards the actress herself, whose performance in the movie is beautiful and brings the whole movie into life.

Aside from being a sort of commentary towards the real life scandal, the movie stands on its own as a sophisticated exercise in minimalism and restraint, although there's a good amount of dialogues (at time it even feels theatrical), the real story is told by the quiet, intimate directing, that privileges static long shots, and, most importantly, by Kim Min-Hee's acting, her micro-expressions, her pauses, her body language, everything serves as a vehicle to tell the story of a woman trying to find herself after the world made her story a tragedy.

On the beach at night alone is a remarkable effort, that finds strength in its quietness.

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