After years living abroad, former actress Sangok (Lee Hyeyoung) is back in Seoul, staying with her sister Jeongok (Cho Yunhee) in her high-rise apartment. The siblings sleep late, have breakfast in a cafe, and visit a restaurant owned by Jeongok’s son. But as the details of Sangok’s day accrue (a spill on her blouse, an encounter at her childhood home), it becomes clear that there is much she is not revealing. And these mysterious circumstances may have something to do with her decision to meet with film director Jaewon (Kwon Haehyo) to discuss her return to acting.
In her first role for prolific filmmaker Hong Sangsoo (THE WOMAN WHO RAN, NIGHT AND DAY), Lee — a prominent theater and screen actress in South Korea — makes a captivating return to the big screen. With IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE, Hong suggests that perhaps the most important things in this life are also the most immediate.
“Hong Sangsoo characters have a habit of — you might even say a genius for — diffidence in the face of profundity. In that way, they’re very like the films in which they appear: outwardly casual, slight, polite, holding pain and truth and existential observation in check with an airy gesture, a sad smile or, in IN FRONT OF YOUR RACE, the South Korean auteur’s second film this year (after the Berlin-awarded INTRODUCTION), an unexpected peal of utterly genuine, soul-repairing laughter.” —Jessica Kiang, Variety “The prolific director’s work since 2009 has yielded 19 low-budget independent features, and all display a distinctive, original, and unified style that provides a taut framework for sharply expressed emotions and intricately developed ideas: long dialogue scenes done in extended takes, with few camera moves and parsed by zooms in and out. His method involves a kind of planned spontaneity, in which he composes scenes and dialogue day after day and offers them to his actors in the course of the shoot. The most radical aspect of his work, though, isn’t in these practices and figures of style. It’s in what they reveal: his understanding of the essence of talking pictures and the distinctive aesthetic power of a dialogue-rich film.” —Richard Brody, New Yorker