Grass 풀잎들 (2018) - South Korea
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
Filmed entirely in black and white in the now well established auteur Hong Sang Soo’s signature style. “Glass” premiered at the 68th Berlin Film Festival runs at a little over 66 minutes portrays an ensemble of characters chatting and going about their complicated lives captured at a quiet and isolated alleyway cafe in Seoul. Seated in the corner as the observer of the whole proceedings is Hong’s regular muse, Kim Min-hee, whose ear-dropping provides the film with a limited core. As with most of Hong’s films, there is no filmic structure, it simply starts at a point in time and the audience is presented with the moment and happening right in front of them.
Jung Jin-young plays the struggling stage actor turned script writer who is currently suffering a writer’s block. In turn he confides with fellow writer played by Kim Sae-byuk. Within the cafe, we see different couples old and young interacts and portray their various worldly problems, from homelessness, old age to regrets and difficult memories to deal with. Ahn Jae-hong stands out as the guy coming to terms of losing a mutual friend and moving on in life. Kim Min-hee is given the most arc as usual as her character blurs the boundaries of what is actually happening to her own imagination of the proceedings.
All in all, “Grass” is by no means Hong’s more accomplished work, but with its an mature effort that expresses more about his own current state of mind. As with most of Hong’s work, the black and white allows a deeper and meaningful expression of what is actually happening. It’s essentially bunch of people getting together taking honestly about their problems and life happenings at a local cafe. We see this in our everyday life and Hong’s capture this in an absolutely human manner. In many ways it’s like Hong’s own brand of soju and that’s fine.
I rated it 7.5/10