By José Sarmiento Hinojosa
By now, Hong Sangsoo has established himself as one of contemporary cinema’s true unique voices in the globe. The construction of the absurd in the daily through a destabilization of his characters, and the hidden (or sometimes very present) cornucopia of his language and meta language of film about film (and filmmakers), not counting the unique humor present in all his cinematography, have made him a household name and a must-see in the universe of filmmaking.
Nobody Daughter’s Haewon is no exception, although Sang-Soo has evolved into a very nuanced and discreet filmmaker (discreet in the very best acceptation of the word), someone who hides a deeply complex narrative inside a singular but very homely tale. This time, the paradox of the story inside the story gives place to a film which never reveals its true origin (is it the fever dream of a sleepy Haewon?) but just hints us into a direction which is never revealed.
The true talent of Hong Sangsoo is to showcase all his unique qualities into a film which, not losing the use of the ritual, the usual or the daily, drifts into an unexpected narrative which is never shown, only until the end in which we comprehend (or not) the true complexity of the tale. The story, between beers and bottles of sake, takes place within the frame of mind of Haewon (Jung Eun-chae), a young woman who keeps a personal affair with her film teacher after her mother departure to Canada. A commonplace with Hong Sang-Soo, this tales keeps afloat not only because of the unique ability of storytelling by the South Korean master, which by now seems able to make stand out of any story he sets his mind into, but also for the complex use of meta narrative which is somehow hidden to the viewer.
By Sang-Soo standards, this comes as no revelation; since he has dealt with far more complex units of film language on previous films (just a view of A Tale of Cinema is more than enough to quench the deepest thirst), but now looks like the master has reached a zen like way of authorship, a prolific way of making cinema which is looks as simple as it can be, but it’s already deeply charged with the vast experience of storytelling that the filmmaker is capable of. Nobody’s Daughter Haewon, (along with its predecessor, Our Sunhi) is without a doubt, one of the best films of 2013.