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HAHAHA (director/writer: Hong Sang-soo; cinematographer: Park Hong-yeol; editor: Hahm Sung-won; music: Jeong Yong-jin; cast: Moon Sori (Seongwook Wang, Female Tour Guide), Sang-kyung Kim (Jo Moon-kyeong), Yeo-jeong Yoon (Moon-kyeong’s mother), Jun-Sang Yu (Jong-sik Bang), Ju-bong Gi (Tong-yeong), Kang-woo Kim (Kang Jeong-ho), Min-sun Kim (No Jeong-hwa), Jun-Sang Yu (Bang Joong-sik), Ji-won Ye(Ahn Yeon-joo); Runtime: 114; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Kim Kyoung-hee; Les Acacias; 2010-South Korea-in Korean with English subtitles)
“A quirky indie film on the meaning of life and the travails of finding romance in the modern world, especially when not sober.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The title translates in English to mean summer. Prolific Korean director Hong Sang-soo (“Woman on the Beach”/”Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors”/”Tale of Cinema”) films a comedy that blends together drunkenness with juvenile notions about romance and a touch of bad poetry. The humor never came across, which could mean I missed something about a foreign culture I don’t know or it just wasn’t funny because the story line was so boozy. In any case, I just couldn’t get into the film and found myself hoping it would soon end so I would no longer be in the company of those that I found so wanting.

Seoul-based young bachelor fired professor and aspiring movie director Jo Moon-kyeong (Sang-kyung Kim) is visiting his divorced restaurant owner mom (Yeo-jeong Yoon) during the summer in the seaside small town of Tongyeong and runs into his Seoul residing movie critic pal who is married, Jong-sik Bang (Jun-Sang Yu), and is vacationing there with a charming girlfriend (Min-sun Kim). The movie director falls in love with the attractive but flighty Seongwook Wang (Moon Sori), a waitress in mom’s restaurant who moonlights as a culture tour guide.

The unhappy movie director plans to immigrate to Canada and run one of his aunt’s photo instant stores, and asks Seongwook to join him there, as she makes him feel good by telling him he gives her good sex.

The movie director and movie critic get drunk as they converse about their past, and through flashbacks we see earlier events in their life that are shown as a series of vignettes. It results in a quirky indie film on the meaning of life and the travails of finding romance in the modern world, especially when not sober. It says such heady things as ‘you only see as much as you know,’ as the men converse and drink heavily at an outdoors bar that overlooks the picturesque harbor.

My problem is I never could connect with this rambling and muddled mildly diverting pic and felt lost or not caring to get what was so funny or enlightening.

For what it’s worth, it won the “Un Certain Regard” prize at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”