- K-Cinema Library
Mar 20, 2018
- Writerby Pierce Conran
2009｜198 MIN | Drama, Romance
DIRECTOR JUNG Sung-il
CAST SHIN Ha-
kyun, MOON Jeong-hee, JUNG Yu-mi, KIM Hye-na
RELEASE DATE December 30, 2010
CONTACT M-Line Distribution
Tel : +82 2 796 2427
Fax : +82 2 796 2429
Korean film critic JUNG Sung-il put down his pen and picked up the megaphone in 2009 when he debuted as a filmmaker with the ambitious arthouse drama Cafe Noir (2010). Following a premiere at the Venice International Film Festival, the film was strongly acknowledged by critics throughout a lengthy festival run. Clocking in at well over three hours, the highly literate work combines wide-ranging influences and styles as it explores themes of unrequited love and isolation in Seoul
Teacher Young-soo has fallen in love with his student’s mother, yet when her husband returns on Christmas Eve, the extramarital affair is unable to continue. He resolves to kill the husband to be with his love but the plan doesn’t work out as he intends it to. Despondent, he attempts to kill himself but then meets Sun-
hwa, a young girl who is waiting for a man she loves who promised to return to her after one year. Young-soo listens to Sun- hwa's long story and becomes intrigued by her.
Split into two parts, one of which switches between black and white photography, Cafe Noir experiments with several visual styles and references a number of arthouse world cinema classics which accentuate this sprawling tale rather than stick out as a mere homage. Director JUNG favors long takes which include side pans that pull us through the vistas of the Cheongyecheon stream in the heart of Seoul for minutes at a time or during an extended monologue delivered by JUNG Yu-mi, as Sun-
hwa, when she explains in detail about her love story to an attentive Young-soo, played by SHIN Ha- kyun.
JUNG’s debut work is not only an ode to the classics of both cinema and literature that he clearly adores but also a love letter to his hometown of Seoul. Omnipresent through the film is the N Seoul Tower which perches over the city atop Namsan Mountain. The tower brings the city and its characters closer together, but as it lingers far in the background it also hints at the alienation that pervades modern life in Seoul.
Following Cafe Noir, JUNG returned with Night and Fog in Zona, a four-hour documentary on Chinese filmmaker WANG Bing which debuted in the New Currents competition of the Busan International Film Festival in 2015. He is currently in post-production on a pair of documentaries about the legendary Korean filmmaker IM Kwon-
taek, called The Gravity of Tea and Cloud, Encore.