The Day After Screen 79 of 13 reviews

The Day After

2017

The Day After Poster
  • As with most Hong films, The Day After engages in intellectual gamesmanship while courting emotional pathos, representing its hero's own attempt to rationalize behavioral chaos with tidy structures and neat justifications. Hong uses a distinctive formality that's designed to highlight its own inadequacy—a daring, self-interrogating hat trick that he's managed to pull off with stunning consistency over the years, forging a cumulative tapestry of the frailties of the creative male ego.

  • It pushes the director’s minimalist tendencies yet further: four characters, three locations and the ephemeral spaces in between, minimal surplus information, an almost total focus on claustrophobically framed conversations and their undulations of resentment and regret. Hong’s endlessly varying relationship dramas have always been cousins to the work of Éric Rohmer; this story of free-thinking women instrumentalized by oblivious men might just be his Love in the Afternoon.

  • In addition to a startling, very Hongian occurence of déjà vu that in fact involves amnesia, The Day After includes one of his most remarkable soju-soaked long-take two-shots, in which boozy flirtation and flattery suddenly turn into a disquisition on the limits of language and the nature of reality. “Why do you live?” Areum asks Bongwan, as Hong’s camera zooms in to sharpen the question.

  • Surprisingly under-esteemed following its Cannes premiere, The Day After constantly defies its own forward movement. Its literal non-linearity is itself a marker of time’s arrow, which can inevitably be tilted and zoomed in upon via subjectivity. Clocks and calendars permeate the mise en scène and the film’s eponymous day in question... is filled with as much ambiguity and interiority as it is bursts of emotion and grand declarations.

  • Funny and light-hearted versus pensive and mournful, Claire’s Camera and The Day After represent the comic and tragic poles of Hong’s cinema. While both films function perfectly well as independent works, they are greatly enriched when considered together. This complementary quality extends to the director’s oeuvre as a whole, which only grows more rewarding with each new chapter – in this regard, his prodigious productivity is a veritable blessing.

  • I count neither On the Beach at Night Alone nor The Day After as among the strongest of Hong’s films—the latter at least has a potent kicker, where the former only trails off—but the nature of his practice makes these sorts of value judgments seem almost superfluous... The movies seem to turn away from the very idea that there is anything to build toward, in either life and in art: things happen and then more things happen.

  • This isn’t my favorite Hong hall of mirrors — it’s a little too trapped in a familiar pattern of events without any truly startling punctuations, save the jawdropping final scene, in which Bongwan takes a really long time to recognize Ahreum and the fact that they’re having a conversation, verbatim, they had at the beginning of the film. This scene’s been called unrealistic, but I’d suggest that’s actually right-on for a dude who’s half out of a bag more often than not — shameless indeed.

  • Two of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen are from South Korean directors... The considerably more modest “The Day After,” from Hong Sang-soo, is a lovely, intricately fractured story — past and present seamlessly slip into each other — about a publisher who repeats the same mistakes with different women.

  • Hong’s sense of humour erupts when Bongwan’s wife arrives in the office and precipitates the moment to its crisis point. Misunderstandings bring lightness, and even slapstick violence to this delicate film. Bongwan’s cluelessness suddenly becomes urgent and amusingly absurd. Yet despite this exciting tonal shift, Hong starts going in circles and seems to struggle to end his film.

  • The emotional distress of the characters and the spare narrative's various inroads (or exit points) to happiness deepens this sturdy structure, showcasing yet again that this director too often dismissed of making similar movies in fact contains in himself as many clever possibilities and proposals as his plots.

  • Compared with Hong's other two films this year, the dark, soul-baring On the Beach at Night Alone and the deceptively quirky Claire's Camera, The Day After feels surprisingly slight. It's not that Hong isn't dealing with substantial matters of the heart here. But there is a straightforward approach to form that borders on normalcy, if not transparency.

  • Sometimes the prolific South Korean filmmaker pushes the wrong way, and that’s what happens with The Day After, a film that wallows cynically and fairly shallowly in familiar relationship issues, and without adding new dimensions to them.

  • Pretty much the archetypal Hong Sangsoo film, The Day After combines many of the director’s prefered themes: mistaken identity; infidelity, repetition and long soju-sodden conversations across dinner tables. However, all but the most dedicated fans of the director’s work might find this story a little too diffuse and meandering, its rewards too deeply buried beneath the evasive wordiness.

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