Thursday, 4 October 2012

REVIEW - IN ANOTHER COUNTRY


A film that is no more nor less than it appears to be. Three tales, connected by a trivial frame, each using the same locations, cast and basic idea, and many recurring characters. Even the non-recurring characters are almost identical to those played by the same actors in other segments. Occasionally, writer-director Hong Sang Soo suggests a degree of inter-connection between segments, but they are manifested only as fleeting moments of recognition from the viewer's perspective, and have no impact upon the film's events. But what events? Little actually takes place in any of these tales and the mild whimsy offsets any potential formality or minimalism. A lot of words are exchanged, but not much is communicated - the characters are French or Korean and speak in English - no-one's first tongue, it seems. Activity increases with each tale, yet interest subsides, and the linguistic barrier grows tiresome. There's merely infrequent humour, or drama, and to define either as such is generous. Frustration and inconsequentiality fill the void instead, and a lack of effort from cast and crew alike - aptly, given the film's unwillingness to commit to any particular style, the film looks polished yet plain, exact camera set-ups and locations are used repeatedly, and the sound mix is amateurish. This is all intentional, naturally, but to what purpose? Not even Isabelle Huppert is trying - the suspicion that this film took as long to shoot as it did to watch perhaps implies that she didn't care either way.