Shot in murky black and white, Hong’s film traverses an open-air spectrum of repeating nuances, locations, and dialogue in charming ways. The small groups of characters, including mildly famous film director Sungjoon (Yu Jun-sang), who’s visiting an old friend in Seoul, graze on the coincidences and human fallibilities defining their overlapping mental quirks. Together, they’re like lost sheep roaming the urban academic landscape for a shepherd.
The typical Hong plot points and obsessions consistently appear: talky anecdotes, extreme social drinking, male fragility, and female loneliness. So why does The Day He Arrives feel so genuine and sad where some of the director’s other film’s come across as pedantic and shallow? Here, Hong is less concerned with the potency of his character’s pain and more with the extended duration, the longing inherent to the process. This ends up making all the difference. He measures the repeating stories and mistakes with an attention to overlapping time, giving each personal moment of déjà vu a hazy importance.
Characters always comment on the consistent cold weather, the chance occurrences, and the levels of familiarity each story shares, but they fail to see the grander problems within their own contradictory decision process. This makes the warm drunken interiors even more misleading, intoxicated soft spots for people collectively coping with the disappointing lull of existence. While the tone of such sequences is always aglow in possibility, the complex reality of their failures to love and evolve is readily apparent in the last shot of the film. Exposing your own self-portrait, even over a bottle or two of soju with friends, can sometimes be too hard to bear. It’s wondrous melancholia.
1.84GB | 1h 18m | 1024×576 | mkv