“The owner of a cafe in a traditional district of Seoul is never shown. But we do discover he likes classical music. To the sound of Franz Schubert, Richard Wagner, or Jacques Offenbach, Hong Sang-soo offers another variation on the recurring motif of all his films – what happens when men and women meet.

A young woman accuses a young man of being responsible for her girlfriend’s suicide. A little later, she pays him a compliment. He stares at the floor, embarrassed. In the middle of the conversation, there’s a pan on to the neighbouring table where a woman is sitting at her laptop. She overhears snatches of dialogue and develops them further. Is she the author of the subsequent miniature portraits of relationships, whose stories and themes mirror one another? At times, she gets involved in the plot; at others, characters seek her advice. In this Hong Sangsoo film too, soju, Korean schnapps, is served at the table. At this moment, the camera pans out, capturing a young couple in traditional costume, taking photos of each other. Resignation or a new beginning?”



Grass is a film of beginnings, middles, and ends, but they’re scrambled. We hear snippets of these characters’ conversations, the talk of people who have history already, and who nonetheless talk to each other like they’re strangers, disagreeing on memories, reaching differing conclusions; we’ll never really know their lives. If fiction is an attempt to understand life, Hong’s film is fascinated by what we can’t know – the tiny mysteries of diurnal endeavors. ‘That’s how life is,’ a man says, near the end. ‘Need to end it sometime.’”

Greg Cwik2


UPDATED ON 08.03.2018