Cinema Review: The Woman Who Ran [NYFF 2020] | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The Woman Who Ran [NYFF 2020]

Studio: The Cinema Guild
Directed by Hong Sang-soo

Oct 06, 2020 Web Exclusive
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The sixth film in three years from famed Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo, The Woman Who Ran stays true to Sang-soo’s brief and minimalist style, at the same time having unique quirks. The film is centered entirely around Gamhee’s (Kim Min-hee) journey traveling for the first time on her own – after not leaving her husband’s side in five years. She visits three, very different friends. As Gamhee catches up with each of them, through conversations that focus on their shared past, she learns about herself and her status as a woman in a society centered around men.

Part of the appeal of Sang-soo’s films, including The Woman Who Ran, is that they are realistic. A lot of the conversations we have in real life aren’t as memorable as most films would like viewers to believe. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t important. The simple nature of human communication is at the forefront of what drives The Woman Who Ran. While the conversations between Gamhee and her friends appear surface-level, the film portrays a variety of themes in an indirect, fresh and refined way. There is only one male character, from Gamhee’s past, who makes a brief appearance near the end of the film. The feminist thread that runs through The Woman Who Ran isn’t always stated directly, but it’s never too far off from whatever subject Gamhee and company are discussing.

Sang-soo often chooses to blur the lines between life and cinema. The Woman Who Ran is no exception. Sang-soo prefers to let the camera linger instead of editing, which during some stretches of dialogue feel monotonous. Still, the conversations between Gamhee and her old friends feel real and relatable. Each of the moments of Gamhee’s inner awakening are sly yet calculated, and could easily be missed. The ability to communicate strong themes in subtle ways is another example of why Sang-soo’s film is one of his strongest.

The Woman Who Ran is a fresh reminder that crafting a story around small moments and simple dialogue can still make a beautiful and meaningful final product. Sang-soo’s 24th feature is an incredibly engaging 77-minute look at a woman finding the beauty within the little things, and one of the most engaging films of the year. At this point in Sang-soo’s career, it’s hard to expect anything less.


Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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