Set in a seaside town, the film consists of three parts that tell the story of three different women, all named Anne and all played by French actress Isabelle Huppert. The framing story has young film student, Won-joo and her mother Park Sook hiding from their debtors in Mohang, a seaside town in Buan, North Jeolla. The bored younger woman sets out to write a screenplay whose plot will use the place they’re staying in for the location, but eventually comes up with three variants, using the same basic idea in all of them.
“The construction of In Another Country, with its triple role for Isabelle Huppert and its recurring characters, is as much based on the pure experience of the chemistry of feelings (consecutively bringing three women into an a priori identical environment and observing the different reactions) as on pictorial observation (changing the foreground figure to see how the background evolves). Far from any rigidity, this dispositif proves incredibly malicious, in the image of the character of the lifeguard, who is identical in the three stories but behaves much more unpredictably than the spectator’s expectations. We expected ‘again’, but we get ‘either, or’. That is precisely Hong Sang-soo’s sleight of hand: making us believe that he is constantly directing the same film in order to quietly ameliorate the construction of his scaffolding of fictional deployment, a drunken cousin of Smoking/No Smoking, which would rather be called Drinking/No Drinking in his case. Cheers, dear Hong Sang-soo! Cheers to you and to your cinema!”
- 1. Joachim Lepastier, “Drinking / No Drinking,” Cahiers du Cinéma, 682 (2012).