‘Walk up’, by Hong Sangsoo, minimalism and irony in its purest form

It is difficult to keep track of the filmography of the famous Korean filmmaker, Hong Sangsoo. I think that to his credit he has at least three dozen films, at a rate that does not drop below two per year. It is not surprising because the director does not stop recording a single moment of his life.

Even at the press conference Hong Sangsoo began to shoot images. In other words, San Sebastián may add another filmmaker, apart from Woody Allen, to the directors who have used their visit to the festival to add more films to their filmographies. Not bad for the contest.

His first film of the year, ‘So-seol-ga-ui Yeong-hwa’ (The Novelist’s Film), was at the Berlinale and won the Grand Jury Prize, now he is premiering ‘Walk up’ at the San Sebastian festival hoping to repeat luck.

Hong Sangsoo repeats his personal formula, which has created his particular signature, and which is recognized among any film. More bottles of soju (a traditional Korean drink distilled with rice, although in ‘Walk up’ wine also has a leading role) than shots, elliptical montage with time jumps, black and white photography, impeccable actors and subtlety in the dialogues.

If in ‘So-seol-ga-ui Yeong-hwa’ the protagonists were three protagonists and the narrative focused on two friends, a filmmaker and another novelist; in ‘Walk up’ the creative tandem is repeated, an interior designer, a filmmaker and his daughter (almost the stone guest of the meeting). A three-story apartment and a collector’s car complete the story.

Reflections and comments on the fame and reputation of the filmmaker (as always in the film, the possibility of self-fiction notes hovers), the possibilities of creation and, above all, the public and intimate personality of the characters with public notorietyare the themes that the filmmaker has chosen for his second film of the year.

Despite its less powerful virtues than its previous film, ‘Walk up’ will delight its loyal fans with its very personal and assertive style. The filmmaker seems to want to further reduce the minimalism of his staging, with the risk that, by dint of expurgating more and more elements, his narrative construction loses solidity.

San Sebastian Festival Official Section

Original title: Walk up. Direction, script, photography, montage, music and sound: Hong Sangsoo. Distribution: Kwon Haehyo, Lee Hyeyoung, Song Sunmi. Duration: 97 min. Country: South Korea (2022). Distribution: L’Atalante Cinema.

Synopsis: A middle-aged film director visits a building owned by an interior designer with his daughter, whom he hasn’t seen in years. They are there because it is what the daughter wants to study. The designer shows them floor by floor the reforms that she has carried out. The three of them go into the rooms on each floor to take a look. The movie starts like this and then we start again at the bottom and go up floor by floor.

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