With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

OUR SUNHI - a Film Comment Selects review

JUNG Yu-mi is everyone's Sunhi
Our Sunhi / U ri Sunhi
Written and directed by HONG Sang-soo
South Korea, 2013, 88 minutes

Our Sunhi is the latest offering from South Korean director HONG Sang-soo. It was the opening night film for the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Film Comment Selects 2014 series this past Monday evening. It will be shown for a second and final time at the film series tomorrow, Thursday, February 20th at 4:45 pm. (Info and tickets here.)

Sunhi (JUNG Yumi) is a film school graduate who returns after being away for quite some time to get a letter of recommendation from Donghyun (KIM Sangjoong), a former professor. Despite graduating, she is yet to have made a film and has decided to continue with graduate studies in the United States. Hence her seeking the recommendation. In the course of events she also encounters Munsu (LEE Sunyun), her former boyfriend who has just completed his first film, and Jaehak (JUNG Jaeyoung, who starred in Moss, 2010), a married director who was senior to Sunhi at the school. All three men seek Sunhi's affection, resulting in quite comical results.

Sunhi (left) and Donghyun (KIM Sangjoong)

The film shares the same interest in filmmakers and cinema that have marked a number of HONG's other films, such as Like You Know It All (2009), Oki's Movie (2010), and The Day He Arrives (2011). It also shares some some of his stylistic trademarks. There is very little camera movement; it is usually locked down, with only the rare pan, tilt, or zoom. The camera is often set square on to what is being filmed, often two or more characters eating and drinking while facing one another across a table. And, of course, there is the repetition of scenes and dialogue, with slight variations in who's speaking the lines and the precise wording.

Munsu (LEE Sunkyun, left) and Sunhi

Furthermore, three of the four leads have appeared in other films by HONG. JUNG was in Oki's Movie and In Another Country (2012); KIM in The Day He Arrives; and LEE in Oki's Movie and Nobody's Daughter Haewon (2013).

Jaehak (JUNG Jaeyoung,,left) shileds Sunhi from the rain

My only real criticism of the film ss the quickness of some of the zooms that occur. They felt jarring and drew too much attention to themselves for my liking. Maybe this was HONG's intention -- to periodically take the viewer out of the narrative by point-out that we're watching a film -- but I could've done with smoother zooms or none at all.

Sunhi's three would-be suitors

Aside from what I found to be distracting zooms, I enjoyed Our Sunhi very, very much. I've seen several of HONG's films and found this one to be his lightest and most funny.

ACF Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; very highly recommended. Our Sunhi is clever, delightful, and whimsical, a truly enjoyable viewing experience.