The Perfect blend of realism and poetry is what ‘Hotel by the River’ is all about.
Director Hong Sang-Soo in his latest film explores the dynamics of a relationship between an ageing father and his two sons through simple conversations which take place between the characters in a hotel located by the river. What I loved the most in the film was it’s superior writing and how well the characters were fleshed out. The film does not quite resort to visual storytelling because the camera just follows the characters and plays a great complement to the screenplay and dialogues of the film.
The father is an ageing poet who has dreams about his death and before he dies he wants to speak to his sons. He left his wife and children early in his marriage. His sons visit him in the hotel and what happens in the next ninety minutes of this Korean Drama is magical. The film also explores the life of two young women whom the poet befriends and they become his inspiration for his latest verse.
The film very subtly yet beautifully highlights the loneliness of the man in the way he converses with the young women. He initially may turn out to be a creep who might seem to have ulterior motives but later into the film you realize the internal conflicts of the man. One of the better scenes of the film shows how he gifts his sons a teddy bear each, something he could not give when they were young. The innocence in the scene ought to give you chills and bring a tear in your eye.
The shot design consisted mainly of long shots and close-ups were hardly used. Some shots were absolutely aesthetic and looked nothing undervalued to a magnificent painting. The pacing of the film is constant throughout with which I had a bit of a problem. If more importance could be given to the father-son dynamics instead of the chemistry of the young girls, the film would have been a much better experience. Nonetheless, I really liked the film. It is a film which makes you feel without emotional manipulation and presents the situation as it was, and this was what I loved about the film the most.
Student – BBA (Media & Communication)