Hong Sang-sooSouth Korea101 minutes2017ColourKorean
Korean master Hong Sang-soo's 19th feature (the first of three he directed in 2017) is one of his most explicitly autobiographical, transparently referencing the director's well-publicized affair with his leading lady Kim Min-hee. On the Beach at Night Alone stars Kim as Younghee, an actress who has retreated to Hamburg following an affair with a well-known filmmaker. The first section of the film follows Younghee as she frets over the absence of her would-be partner while exploring the city's parks and street markets; in the second she returns to South Korea, where she encounters a typically Hongian community of female friends and idiotic male acquaintances, each of whom reacts to and treats Younghee in wildly different fashion, and in whose company Younghee's own volatile personality — which is stoked by the slightest hint of alcohol — is fully revealed. Kim deservedly took home the Best Actress prize at the Berlin Film Festival for her performance as Younghee, who is Hong's most compelling character to date — which is appropriate, as he knows her best of all.