Difficult though it can be to parse through Hong Sang-soo’s oeuvre — an onslaught of projects that continued with the recent premiere of Grass and is likely to bring at least one more title this year — nearly each, seen up-close, is a gem. But The Day After is particularly special: one of his keenest in terms of structure (which is saying something), among the most devastating in probing grief and idiocy, and, of course, funny. (Rumor has it Will Smith laughed his way through the jury screening when this played at Cannes last year.) Cinema Guild, continuing to do the Hong’s work, will begin rolling it out in a couple of weeks, and thus there is a trailer.
You’ll want to keep your eyes peeled. As we said in our Cannes review, “The film is held together by a handful of long form conversations and — as those Hong elements infuse — the film is, perhaps, at its most profound when these blocks of dialogue transcend Bongwan’s domestic squabbles. The fateful opening meal with his wife (in which she confirms his affair) — and her subsequent misjudged tirade on Areum in the office — make for uneasy viewing, but these are begot by Soju-fueled discussions between Bongwan and Areum in which Hong allows the man’s imperfections and egotism to overshadow his confident façade. Indeed, with its drab interior settings; cinematographer Kim Hyung-koo’s unforgiving black and white photography; brutally honest subject matter; and all too rare moments of catharsis, The Day After is not the easiest watch but then it’s that very slog that makes the bigger moments all the more powerful.”
South Korean Master Hong Sangsoo’s (ON THE BEACH AT NIGHT ALONE, CLAIRE’S CAMERA) 21st feature as director, THE DAY AFTER, is a mordantly comic tale of infidelity and mistaken identity. Book publisher Bongwan’s (Kwon Haehyo) marriage is on the rocks after his wife (Cho Yunhee) discovers the affair he’s been having with his assistant (Kim Saebyuk). Now that relationship is ending too and Bongwan’s new assistant, the sharp and sensitive Areum (Kim Minhee), on her first day in the office, is left to navigate the fallout of all the turnover in Bongwan’s life.
The Day After opens at New York’s Film Society of Lincoln Center on May 11, with a national rollout to follow.