March 7, 2010

Woman on the Beach: Writing What You Know When You Know Nothing

Writer's block is a drag. But when the condition becomes the inspiration for a movie, like it does in Hong Sang-soo's arty Woman on the Beach, audiences tend to suffer right alongside the struggling screenwriter. Admittedly, the case depicted here isn't a particularly crippling or painful one: Hong's stand-in (Kim Seung-woo) is able to work through his creative paralysis in less than a week thanks to some trusty tools familiar to many artists (and moviegoers who frequent biopics of same). How's he do it? Well, he betrays his close-friend/producer (an underutilized Kim Tae-woo) by sleeping with his girlfriend (Go Hyun-jung) then betrays his new girlfriend by seducing a lonely divorcee (Song Seon-mi). Blame it on the soju! As portraits of womanizing artists go, Woman on the Beach is fairly tame stuff because the creative cad at its center neither ruins anyone's life nor exhibits self-destructive behavior on a grand scale. He just makes the lives of those around him a little messy and his own life, a little lonely. We can only hope that the art which he produces by stirring up all that trouble is better than this document of his creative process.

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