Courtesy The Cinema Guild

Most filmmakers start small and aspire to more elaborate productions and thematically richer narratives. On the contrary, South Korean writer-director Hong Sang-soo has been working backwards from that notion; his films seem to get increasingly shorter, with his first feature from 2021 (In Front of Your Face is the second) and 25th overall having a run time of just over an hour. Hong, however, has indulged in a sort of filmic maximalism, releasing between one and three films a year for the past several years. But they’re beginning to feel as spare narratively as they are in length; one wonders whether there just isn’t much there—if what you see is what you get, albeit in a highly satisfying way that only a master like Hong can achieve—or whether it’s just the filmmaker himself who knows the significance of what’s occurring onscreen. This centers on a young man who’s present in all three of the narrative sections, which take place across an unspecified amount of time: in the first he goes to visit his doctor father and flirts with his father’s receptionist; in the second he follows his girlfriend to Berlin, where she’s gone to live with her mother’s friend while she attends school; and, finally, he shares a meal with his mother and the actor who’d been visiting his father in the first sequence. There’s very little substance, with only a meager bit of exposition providing any kind of throughline, yet the film confounds in its modest ambitions. It was shot in black and white; though not unusual for Hong’s films, this is the first on which he’s also served as cinematographer. In Korean with subtitles. 66 min.

Gene Siskel Film Center