HKIFF Review: In Another Country 다른 나라에서 他鄉的女人 (2012) – South Korea
Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA FIPRESCI
Review Date: 5th April 2013
Directed by: Hong Sang-soo
Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Kwon Hae-hyo, Moon So-ri, Yoo Jun-sang
Reviewed as part of 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2013
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This is one of those films that presents a few scenarios or even alternative takes in life. I am not sure whether the film-maker here is intentionally trying to use the cultural differences for laughs or the very fact that most of the dialogue exchange is so bad to the point that it is actually funny. Casting French popular and award winning actress Isabelle Huppert in the lead role is decent as at the very least she tries to act in the midst of some truly atrocious acting display from the Korean quadrant (Kwon Hae-hyo and Moon So-ri, in particular). I am amazed to read that this film is being nominated for a number of Korean film awards and even completed for the Palme d’Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Perhaps, the film is easily riding on the fame of director Hong Sang-soo’s past films, as I cannot think of any other reasons. Even taking into account that most of Korean actors are out of their comfort zone by the need to commute in English, but some of the acting on display is borderline amateurism and almost unforgiving. When the best thing to come out of this film is the bad acting and dialogue from the lifeguard character (played by Yoo Jun-sang), you know the film is not entirely promising at all.
Isabelle Huppert is probably the anchor in the film, as possibly one of the few people to come out of the film unscratched. She portray the “fish out of water” role quite decently without standing out, but her true motivation is never actually explored. Kwon Hae-hyo who plays the Korean counterpart is clearly terrible and his acting is almost unbearable. His wife played by Moon So-ri is outright annoying, while Yoo Jun-sang who plays the lifeguard is easily the spot light and shining light of the film. Every movement, gesture and dialogue induce laughter. I don’t care whether his acting is so bad that it is funny or deliberately done, whatever it is, Yoo Jun-sang manages to provide plenty of entertainment and a lone bright spot of the movie.
All in all, “IN ANOTHER COUNTRY” feels low budgeted, suffers from poor production values and equally bad acting. While the cultural exchange and poor dialogue may be funny at first instance, it gets repetitive as the film goes on. Essentially, director Hong Sang-soo is probably trying to say something wacky about love, foreign people and Korean man, but “IN ANOTHER COUNTRY” doesn’t do it for me. The only good news is that the film is at times so bad that it is funny. (Neo 2013, Reviewed as part of 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2013)
I rated it 5/10