Derik Badman's Journal

2021-01-27 08:01

Hill of Freedom is one of Hong Sang-Soo's more lighthearted comedic films. It also has a quirky narrative structure. I quite enjoyed it. The premise is that Mori, a Japanese man, arrives in Korea looking for a woman he used to work with at a language institute in the town. But unbeknownst to him she is away on some kind of recuperative retreat. The movie starts with her getting home and recieving a pack of letters from him, but on her way out of the building she drops them and they scatter. The rest of the movie (except the ending) consists of the letters visualized, and because they are now out of order, the scenes happen out of order. This provides a bit of disjunction but not any overarching mysteries. We see characters before they are introduced, but some of the plot lines still seem to happen in order. Again, kind of a like a Rohmer Moral Tale, the protagonist is away from home, and there is the woman who is the potential girlfriend and then there is the woman he meets while unable to find/see the first woman, but Hong never really plays on the dilemma here. Hong also remains resolutely against any action here. At one point Mori somehow gets locked in the bathroom at the one woman's apartment, but the scene starts after he is locked in (we don't see it) and ends before anyone shows up to let him out. Similarly, late in the film, we see him with a black eye, and one of the other characters mentions a fight, but we never see the fight (though it is easy enough to infer who it was with). This one goes against my idea that Hong is better when the films focus on the woman, as the that is not the case here. It might help that the protagonist this time seems much nicer than the male protagonists often are in his films.

Volumes 6 and 7 of Aria: The Masterpiece, the last volumes, finally arrived, so I've been working my way through them. The retro utopic future of the setting and the good natured appreciation of the smaller things in life are all nice and calming at this point, though these later volumes often take on a more melancholic/nostalgic mood.