Right Now, Wrong Then

25 November 2015 | 2:21 pm | Madeleine Laing

"An intimate story of the delicacies of human interaction."

Hong Sang-soo's Right Now, Wrong Then is an exercise in patience. It tells the same story twice-Han Chun-su (a name that's possibly a tongue-in-cheek reference to the auteur's perceived narcissism), an acclaimed art film director, visits a small suburb of Korea for a film screening and Q&A and meets young, lonely artist and ex-model Hee-Jung.

In the first half of the film he is insincere and over-the-top with his affections and ends up alienating Hee-Jung. In the second he approaches her with more honesty and things develop differently; though perhaps not differently enough for some to watch almost the exact same series of conversations in the same restaurants and cafes a second time. The accolades and devotion that Han receives, especially from a pretty young film student who all but begs to be his assistant, could be slightly gross if the joke wasn't primarily on the director and not the women. He's a likeable ageing womaniser whose well-meaning romantic notions often fall flat.

Right Now, Wrong Then is pleasant, amusing and meditative. The purposefully clumsy, naturalistic style (long stationary shots and obtrusive zooms) work with the excellent acting — by leads Jeong Jae-yeong and Kim Min-hee, but also a gently wacky cast of supporting characters — to make it an intimate story of the delicacies of human interaction.