Woman on the Beach

Director: Hong Sang-Soo
Year Released: 2006
Rating: 3.0

A filmmaker with … well, filmmaker's block (Kim Seung-Woo) asks a friend to take him near the beach so he can think clearer, so his friend brings along a female companion (Go Hyun-Jung) that the director seduces. I've criticized Hong for repeating his love triangle formula for years (and years) and was prepared to dislike this, but it seems overnight he learned about audience involvement and multi-dimensional characters - it's still (like his prior pictures) a tad flat in parts, but I personally believe the semi-autobiographical aspect played a huge part in preventing this from being another formalist exercise (and also proves something I always suspected, that arthouse filmmakers who have built their reputations out of crafting alienating pictures can become a bit more accessible without losing their souls). The title's reference to Renoir is apt, as it really is an insightful look at relationships and the unnecessary 'drama' generated within, about male and female insecurities (the guys have trouble mentally dealing with the idea of a woman they're interested in having dated several men from the West) and about how artists can callously manipulate real-life to create fodder for their artistic-life.