THE DAY HE ARRIVES is an intriguing, slippery, funny little South Korean art-house flick, directed by Hong Sang Soo as a kind of vintage Woody-Allen-esque take on thirty-somethings drinking, flirting and ruminating on life, relationships and co-incidence. The trigger of the film is a semi-famous movie director called Yoo Seongjun visiting friends in Seoul from a self-imposed exile in a provincial university. He seems diffident, annoyed at fawning film-students and embarrassed by former colleagues. He's sentimental about an old love affair and yet throws himself at a pretty young girl in a bar. He seems compelled to relive the day he arrives over and over, each time events take a slightly different turn and shed light on characters and relationships. And the whole thing revolves around drinking and eating and drinking some more! The movie is hard to characterise. It's very funny, contains some on-point relationship insights - and yet feels somehow insubstantial - an exercise in writing around a funny central "Groundhog Day" concept. And yet I do find myself thinking about it - it has left its mark - and of all the films I have seen to date, it strikes me as the most original, and the one I'd love to see again. Definitely worth seeking out, and thanks to Filmland Empire for the tip-off.
THE DAY HE ARRIVES / BOOK CHON BAN HYANG played Cannes 211. It doesn't have a commercial release date yet.
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