August 8, 2010

The Power of Kangwon Province: Rejection Involves a Loss of Color

Hong Sang-soo's The Power of Kangwon Province is two pretty good movies in one. The first concerns a recent high school graduate (Oh Yun-hong) who joins two friends for a short, frankly miserable vacation at a beachfront tourist trap, where she has a botched romance with a married local cop (Kim Yoosuk). The second half-a-movie focuses on a struggling professor (Baek Jong-hak) with whom the young woman recently had an affair and who happens to be simultaneously taking a much more decadent trip to the same subpar resort. Although the two narratives tie together quite nicely come the final scenes, all of The Power of Kangwon Province feels so infected with melacholia that even tangential asides never feel that disconnected. Mood is everything here. A background story about a man who may have pushed his wife off a cliff only heightens the pervading sense that love is disappointing at best, fatal at worst. As someone who has found Hong's later efforts (Woman on the Beach, Night and Day) to be affected dreck, The Power of Kangwon Province proved unexpectedly moving. This flick has an earnest directness that makes its washed out palette feel like an honest manifestation of the colorlessness of the heart's despair.

1 comment:

  1. Love this film and you're absolutely right, it's all about mood! Never have I watched a film and felt a season so potently. I felt like I could smell the effects of summer on Kangwon and it made me want to be there.

    This is definitely my favorite Hong Sang-soo effort but I wouldn't right off his other films so quickly. Turning Gate in particular is worth a look, haven't seen his last few though.