On the Beach at Night Alone
Bamui haebyun-eoseo honja
Kim Minhee is luminous as a woman who retreats to Hamburg to recover from a broken heart in Hong Sangsoo’s bold tribute to bruised romantics.
Dir-Scr Hong Sangsoo
With Kim Minhee, Seo Younghwa, Kwon Haehyo
Prod Co Jeonwonsa Film
In the opening scenes of this bittersweet post-break-up film, we find Young-hee visiting a friend in Hamburg and nursing a broken heart. With all the enthusiasm of the romantic drifter abroad, Young-hee (The Handmaiden’s Kim Minhee) ponders relocating there, but life in the German city is also alienating, resulting in much lost-in-translation humour. Meanwhile, back in Gangneung and with the soju flowing, Young-hee questions the social attitudes that have punished her relationship with a married film director. Director Hong Sangsoo is at his most Rohmer-esque here, employing a lightness of touch and compassionate curiosity about Young-hee’s motivations, making the film’s central questions on love and its aftermath more resonant. Kim Minhee, who won the Best Actress Golden Bear in Berlin, exudes an impressive emotional rawness, demonstrated in a particularly poignant stolen moment, as Young-hee sings a song to herself, whilst smoking outside a bar, all alone.