Hong Sang-soo, as is often joked, makes the same film over and over again; yet, interestingly, this seeming repititiveness has been the canvas for his subtle formalist explorations on the medium’s narrative and meta-narrative nuances, including the relative nature of truth. Right Now, Wrong Then, therefore, brilliantly served as an ingenuous, deadpan and disarmingly self-reflexive gag by the Korean auteur, along with being a cheeky subversion of cinematic possibilities, through staging the same eventflow twice, but with increasingly perceptive differences and divergences so that, by the end, the two versions couldn’t be more disparate and distinct despite the broad similaritites. An arthouse filmmaker (Jung Jae-young), who’s visiting Suwon to present his work, strikes conversation with a lonesome young woman (Kim Min-hee) – a paintern and former model – who’s caught his attention; over the course of the day, they chat about themselves at a café, visit her garret to see her attempts at painting, casually flirt while getting drunk at a tavern and attend an intimate get-together later in the evening. There was, evidently, a sense of fakery in the man in the 1st version which got stripped off to her eyes at the evening party; in the 2nd, on the contrary, he was blunt and unpredictable, which, ironically, also quietly enhanced their intimacy. The film’s formal playfulness was reminiscent of Virgin Stripped Bare by her Suitors – just that, while in the latter the narratives diverged based on the character’s POV, here it was the director’s own perspective at play. And yes, it had liberal usage of Hong’s trademark pan-zooms and a number of unobtrusive long single takes, including couple of enthralling ones capturing their rambling yet pivotal café conversation sequences.
Director: Hong Sang-soo
Genre: Drama/Romantic Drama/Avant-Garde
Country: South Korea