“I don’t think you really understood the film.”
Yong-sil in Geuk jang jeon [Tale of Cinema] (2005)
“Hong is the king of number two: two men for a women (Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, 2000), two women for a man (Woman on the Beach, 2006), two chapters in a male-female relation (Turning Gate, 2002), two films in one (Tale of Cinema, 2005), two filmmakers (Like You Know It All), two countries (Night and Day, 2008), two everything. In his films, almost every character, location, plot twist, and love affair have an alternative. Being true, being honest – as I recall hearing Hong’s angry speeches about cinema – is the only thing that matters to him, but at the same time, the truth is never there: it’s a phantom. The secret of his filmmaking is staying true to the false: that’s why his characters chase truth like a mirage that’s always changing place and shape. That formal device is what makes his films so similar, yet so fresh and so free. Hong’s tales of male hysteria and female madness – those sad-funny stories where everybody cheats on themselves – is an organic labyrinth where all paths cross and destiny can go all ways at each crossroads, though the same sense of loss and frustration lies at the end of every path. And there’s no way out of this nightmare because the world is not a Platonic Avatar but a Hong Sang-soo film.”
- 1Quintín, “The Decade in Review,” Cinema Scope 46.