With “Right Before Your Eyes”, Hong Sang-soo confronts the passage of time

Sangok (Lee Hye-young) and Jeongok (Cho Yunhee) in


Hong Sang-soo's filmography is a living organism. Prolific, perpetually in motion, elusive. The author of The day the pig fell into the well (1996) has been linking films at a hellish pace for more than twenty-five years. The artistic gesture seems, in his work, to be contained both in this speed, this abundance of titles, and in the control of an economy that allows this profusion. The filmmaker's hyperactivity regularly misleads his viewer, often overwhelms critics, despite the unity of his work, and ultimately contradicts what characterizes, in a sense that has become too common, the notion of a great international author.

Discreet and immense, such is the profound nature of an art which, in its very minimalism, unleashes all the powers of cinema. But what, for a superficial look, could be an obsession, a tenacious stubbornness, even repetition (if you don't like his films), appears rather as the result of a constant evolution, an evolution subject to subtle – and probably still largely imperceptible – transformations.

How not to imagine that the thirty or so films he directed could not also express, in a coded way, his own biography or, more modestly, print a form of intimate maturation? Not literally, but in the subtle mutations of its motifs. There were, in his career, a few experiments that could pass for sidesteps (In Another Country, in 2012, Claire's Camera, in 2017). But above all, in recent years, there has been a transformation of the horizon of his films. To the quest for what happens between men and women, what defines the nature of desire and its inscription in time, has been added, for a few titles, a reflection on the relationship between generations, a meditation on finitude and death. right before your eyes comes to affirm spectacularly the inflection given to his work.

Story of a return

The film is the story of a return. It is that of Sangok (Lee Hye-young), a woman who we guess has lived far from Korea for years and who returns, after several years of absence, to the places of her youth. We learn that she was an actress for a while, before settling in the United States. The first sequences show her in her sister's apartment, in a building in the center of a large complex in the suburbs of Seoul.

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