The pathologies of love
Hong Sangsoo has constructed with this film a fascinating parable about love. Or even better, about falling in love, that form of mental illness that clouds the view, that prevents perceiving reality as it is, which is joyful and painful at the same time, snatches and transports even crazy behaviors. The infatuation is the peculiar way in which the love is lived, and on that it is the film of the Korean director.
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Like all experiences, love is also subjective, and narrating it involves entering the particularities of a concrete vision that traps, modifies and digests the objective features that are presented before. It is about entering into a point of view, offering a focus, taking distance from reality.
In his previous film, Now yes, before no, that task was assumed of programmatic form. And it was done as explicitly as possible. The same story was told twice in such a way that the slight variations from one to the other betrayed the way in which the two protagonists lived it.
That canonic mode of counting appears in Lo tuyo and you totally subverted. But not abandoned. In a major narrative challenge, Sangsoo has decided to capture the privacy and diversity of viewpoints from objectivity, and the success of his company is what makes this film a real jewel. With the camera fixed (almost) and linking a few sequences in which the protagonists are limited to speak, it seems as if it wanted to give a reliable testimony of the real, the object.
Nevertheless the director uses two slight resources to question that apparent reality. The first is the inclusion of transitions in black between some sequences, which breaks the alleged fluidity and naturalness of the story, and secondly the panoramas and zooms that suddenly violate the camera’s stillness. With them he directs his gaze to a specific place, obliges to select and ignore, thus announcing the partiality of what is shown, destroying the apparent objectivity.
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The chaotic story that is told, approached from an almost neutral distance, without references that allow to find the solution to the enigma, responds to the insoluble chaos that represents the way in which the protagonists live their infatuation. And in that disorder the imagination will take the reins and will shift knowledge to the realm of the inconsequential, the insignificant.
When Minjung, tired of the suspicions and pressures to which it submits Youngsoo, decides to leave it, the world of this one collapses. His love does not disappear, but it becomes an agonizing attempt to recover it, at the same time that the warnings of his friends go populate his mind of ghosts. Her obsessions, her anxiety, her fears, coexist to give shape to a vision of her lover between absurd and malevolent.
Sangsoo shows it with commendable subtlety and accuracy. The different encounters of women in bars, their predisposition to engage in conversation with strangers, their whims with alcohol, are nothing more than the projection of what torments her boyfriend. Neither the voice-over nor the alterations of the image are necessary to indicate a caesura in the speech, because everything is articulated from the suffering perspective of the abandoned boyfriend.
We see how this being torn (the injured foot, without our knowledge of the causes of the injury, and appears at the time of abandonment, gives a metaphorical account of the decline that his person is experiencing) fears the forgetfulness of his beloved, His substitution for other lovers, and how he recalls that once he is rediscovered, he is not the same one who left him, that he has become an unknown person.
But Minjung’s point of view is also contained. He feels caged and his decision is a flight to freedom. Control over what she drinks, that her boyfriend thinks she has the right to exercise, or the obsession with rumors about her flirtations with other men represents the prison in which she is not ready to go on living. Hence, in her new life she sees herself violating the controls she was subjected to, expounding on the forbidden. But above all it strives to deny its categorization, or, in other words, to devalue knowledge.
Minjung reiterates again and again that she is not who she seems to be. He insists that he does not know who is challenged, or a twin sister is invented, and in this way he subtracts from the reification that threatens her. Knowledge, which she disdains explicitly, reduces reality to unshakable limits, offers a scheme that imposes its logic and limits what is and what will be. When denying it, the girl recovers her possibilities, escapes coercion and ensures her freedom. Knowing exactly who Minjung is, whether or not she claims to be, is precisely to dynamite the barrier that she interposes with those who pretend to dominate her, and that is why the film can do nothing but leave all these questions irresolute, because it is the Vision of the one that is offered to us.
And on the other hand, the inability of the various male characters to capture what Minjung is does not reveal only the dominating will, but their inability to understand the universe of this woman, and by extension of the Woman, the distance between it and Their awkward pretensions. Yours and you stand as well as a paid tribute to the eternal enigma of the feminine longed for and unknown, persecuted but, at last, domineering.
However, beyond all this, of the anxieties and miseries, there is love, and love will end up imposing itself. In one of the most beautiful moments of this beautiful film, Youngsoo and Minjung, already rediscovered, will confess that it is their first time, and although it is not so, because oblivion erases the past and in doing so gives New opportunity to the future. A renewed future in which everything resumes, in which his new personalities exclude what was and prepare the flowering of a new love. A love based on the will and not on the knowledge, because it is the one who nourishes it and this the threatening guardian who castrates it. And a candle, on which the camera moves, indicates that resumption of time.
A magnificent film by a director who has directed almost twenty feature films, but which is only beginning to be known among us. Its apparent simplicity should not make us ignore the wealth that this film treasures, and that requires a contemplation calm and attentive to be unraveled. Hopefully we get the rest of his works, because little that does not demean what we know enjoyment is assured.