You’re not going to see the latest Hong Sang-soo movie – you’re going to see the latest installment of the Hong Sang-soo show. Releasing at least one film each year since 2008 (plus doubling up in 2013), his films stick to more or less the same tone, subject, aesthetic, and character types. If there’s a story about a film director with a weakness for drink who’s juggling a series of comically tragic relationships that start to all sound the same, Hong will find it. Probably by use of a zoom shot.
Even within such a firmly-established pattern, Right Now, Wrong Then has such a Hong Sang-soo premise that I’m actually surprised he’s never, to my knowledge, used it before. Jung Jae-young stars as Ham Chun-su, a successful film director, who hits it off with Yoon Hee-jung (Kim Min-hee), an aspiring painter, who admires him, at least for his reputation. They have quite a lot to drink, and the whole date quickly goes south. Then, after all is lost, the story restarts itself, with different beats in the same environs. For a filmmaker who’s been somewhat obsessed with repetition and slight variations, this set-up seems a long time coming.