Film review: 'Introduction' by Hong Sang-soo | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Introduction

Studio: Cinema Guild
Director: Hong Sang-soo

Oct 03, 2021 Web Exclusive
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Introduction is the 25th film from South Korean writer-director Hong Sang-soo. It adheres to the director’s patented slice-of-life filmmaking style, but is both frustrating and disappointing.

The film begins with Youngho (Shin Seokho) visiting his father, a doctor specializing in acupuncture. Most of this segment tracks Youngho as he sits in the office’s waiting room, waiting for his father to finish up tending to a famous actor. The next segment of the film focuses on Youngho’s trip to Berlin to surprise his fashion student girlfriend, Juwon. The final part captures a conversation between Youngho, his mother, a close friend and a famous actor as they all discuss Youngho’s acting career and his shortcomings.

Introduction is shot in black-and-white, which doesn’t add anything to the film stylistically. Hong’s strategic use of zoom-ins and -outs is the most visually artistic aspect of the film. The magic of Hong’s work is how he layers characters through a series of dialogues. The conversations between the characters are complex and relatable, particularly toward the film’s end. This does not address the main flaw of how the characters are built and portrayed.

Similar to many of Hong’s other films, Introduction is a character study. Even though the entire film revolves around events in Youngho’s life with an insider’s perspective, his character is not nearly defined enough to connect viewers to the events on-screen. The character lacks a fleshed-out backstory. At a meager 66 minutes, viewers aren’t given enough access to understand how the dialogues impact Youngho. This issue resolves itself toward the end, mainly due to the heavy-handed nature and directness of the final conversation. This doesn’t help the majority of Introduction, which lacks definition, making the film directionless.

Introduction lacks the narrative complexities for which Hong’s films have previously received acclaim. Instead, it’s remarkably average, inoffensive and straightforward enough to pass the time. For viewers who are new to Hong’s work, Introduction is best positioned as a gateway into his more refined work, rather than a standalone product. (www.filmlinc.org/nyff2021/films/introduction/)

Author rating: 5.5/10

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