Right Now, Wrong Then

Director: Hong Sang-Soo
Year Released: 2015
Rating: 1.5

Good heavens, it's another Hong film about himself: filmmaker Ham (Hong's stand-in, Jeong Jae-Yeong, sporting an age-inappropriate Justin Bieber haircut and Dad Jeans) meets painter He-Jeong (Kim Min-Hee), they have tea, they go out for sushi, Ham gets smashed on soju, he gets cranky after a post-film Q&A, they basically go their separate ways ... but then - a-ha! - Hong replays that very same setup (here we go again!) and his two leads have a better time together. Hong is trying to show how budding relationships can go sour based on changes in dialogue and behavior (in scenario 2, Ham criticizes He-Jeong's art instead of giving false praise in the first part) ... yet what he's trying to pass off as how alterations in communication can change destiny never feels like anything but filmmaker manipulation: the two characters in "Right Now" are simply not the same as they were in "Wrong Then," thereby nullifying possible nuance (plus some people/scenes are missing from the second half that were in the first half). So what is a feeble attempt at being 'philosophical' regarding the intricacies of courtship is really just another trip down Narcissism Road. "I try to discover new kinds of things," Ham says ... and I'm assuming it's Hong being ironic. If he's trying to bring back the zoom ... that needs to stop.