In “Walk Up,” filmmaker Hong Sang-soo climbs the floors of his haunted house


In the middle of Walk Up , Hong Sang-soo’s latest feature film to hit French screens, a scene catches the eye. At the end of the meal, a well-known and rather mainstream director laments the cost of filming and production delays, regretting the years lost between two films. “It’s all about the money!” “ , he complains, hastening to add: “There is no reason for that. »

This dream of a production freed from the industry, we can say that Hong Sang-soo pushed it to the end, he who now shoots two or three films per year, completely independently. In twenty-eight years of career, the man whom the South Korean cinema community regards as an anomaly has built around him a light system, which allows him to shoot quickly and at will: a small structure (Jeonwonsa Film Co. ), a small team (four people), light equipment and a compact troop of faithful actors. His “small” films linked together thus compose a microcosm in perpetual expansion.

After several films that pushed the purity to the brink of erasure, Walk Up returns to a sinuous style, sailing between the dimensions of space and time. The film takes as its setting a unique location, a building in Gangnam, the upscale district of Seoul, completely following the shape of the building, smooth and cubic on the outside, but, inside, crooked and crooked.

Byung-soo (Kwon Hae-hyo), a renowned director in his prime, accompanies his daughter for a visit – in fact, an internship application – to an interior decorator friend (Lee Hye-young), who shows them around his property on three floors and a basement. It houses a workshop, accommodation, and even a restaurant. Byung-soo, divorced and at the crossroads of his career, returns there three times, at various non-decisive moments in his life. On the first floor, he will have lunch at the deserted table of a single restaurateur (Song Sun-mi). In the second, he will live with her for a time, sharing her apartment. On the third floor, in the highest attic, it will vegetate alone.

Winter Tales in Black and White

Like the filmmaker’s other films, Walk Up is punctuated by table scenes. They host extensive alcoholic conversations where guests stumble on the oilcloth of language, surrounded by awkward silences, clumsy formulations, dyslexia of meaning and sidelong glances. Here, there is no need to introduce the characters, as they reveal themselves directly through their untimely comments, and even more so in their gaps. If Hong Sang-soo’s films are classified by seasons, this one belongs to the black and white winter tales, whose sharp contours amplify, by contrast, the human inaccuracies. We could also classify them by beverage: here, it is wine that predominates, instilling the film with its vapors of intoxication and its melancholic tannin.

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