MIFF 2011 Film Review: The Day He Arrives

5 Aug

A Review by Mia Robinson

Korean with subtitles, drama, 79 minutes

Written and directed by Hong Sang-soo, The Day He Arrives is a strangely amusing, refreshingly different and at times dull and tedious film.  Shot in black and white, along with clunky and obvious camera work, this film feels like a throwback to the “golden years” of cinema.

The film follows middle-aged, boyish in spirit, retired filmmaker Director Yoo, also known as Sang-Joon, as he spends a few days in Seoul to catch up with a close friend.  He also has several run-ins with people from his past and others who recognize him for his work.  For most of the film, we watch Sang-Joon with a friend or two – talking, eating and drinking.  During his stay in Seoul, he frequents the same bar and restaurant, walks the same streets and repeated moments are played with and built upon creating a groundhog-day type effect.

This film is ambiguous and largely left to interpretation; it explores notions such as coincidence and subsequent imposed meaning.  The superficial similarities between people who communicate on a surface-level are exploited and cause an enjoyable laughing-at-yourself-as-you-relate-to-the-characters type humour.

7 out of 10.

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