Never mind what the critics are saying about Kathryn Bieglow’s pro-torture movie, Zero Dark Thirty. The best movie you are going to see this weekend (if you’re lucky enough to live near a theater that is actually playing it) is the winning and charming love story from South Koren director San-soo Hong, In Another Country.
Now let’s just be frank: outside of Korean soap operas and the occasional episode of Lost, there are no love stories in which Korean men play the romantic leads. There are legions of movies, television, and Broadway shows in which Korean women are held up as romantically desirable. Their male counterparts, however, have never been so lucky. For whatever reason, we in the West prefer our Korean men in math contests and IT help desks.
Well, the loss has been completely ours, and this is brilliantly highlighted in In Another Country. The story, told in three vignettes spread across its 90 minute running time, center on the isolation felt by the Frenchwoman at the heart of the tale. Isabelle Huppert plays Anne, who in different avatars ends up meeting the same male lifeguard (played marvelously by Yu Junsang) who converses with her in fits of very loud and very broken English. It’s hilarious because it’s so natural and so utterly exasperating.
In spite of all of this, the two characters cannot help but be drawn toward each other. The movie seems to say, with something less than certainty, that relationships are often more interpretation than execution, more following shadows than holding hands on the beach. And that’s what makes the movie as memorable as it is. The fact that it turns ethnic stereotypes on its head without expecting to be rewarded for it merely adds to its charm. An absolute treat for lovers of great cinema.