The director of one hit movie is left at a motel to write a screenplay and spends the night with a coffee delivery woman/call girl named Cho-hee who regales him with the tale of a character she calls Romance Joe.
A despondent man who used to be a filmmaker checks into a motel and spends the night with a call girl.
In a woods, a teenage boy comes across a classmate named Choo-hee who is bleeding from a life-threatening cut and rushes her to the hospital.
A thirteen year old boy has run away from his grandmother who's been raising him and comes to a town in search of his own mother, armed only with an address.
These are the various narrative threads that first-time director Lee Kwang-kuk weaves together in this intriguing film. Certain characters are either the same person at different ages or just have the same name.
If you like certain films by HONG Sang-soo, you'll almost certainly enjoy Romance Joe. It shares HONG's frequent use of a filmmaker as the main protagonist and of others involved in film as supporting characters. And while it doesn't conform to HONG's frequent use of repetition with variation, it does utilize coming at the the story from different points of view.
But you don't necessarily have to be a fan of HONG to enjoy LEE's film. Leave any desire you may have for straightforward narrative structure outside the Tribeca Cinema. Come with an open mind and be prepared to take a journey down a cinematic rabbit-hole.
ACF Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; highly recommended.