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A Traveler’s Needs by Hong Sang-soo

Last updated on February 19, 2024

A film by Hong Sang-soo

With: Isabelle Huppert, Lee Hye-young, Kwon Hae-hyo, Cho Yun-hee, Ha Seong-guk, Kim Seung-yun, Kang So-yi, Ha Jin-hwa

A French woman, who initially played a child’s recorder in a park and faced financial struggles, eventually became a French teacher for two women, finding solace in lying down on rocks and relying on makkeolli for comfort.

Perhaps the best Hong Sang Soo of recent years. And the Golden Bear so far . A mysterious French woman in Korea, can only produce strangeness. But the film goes beyond this pronounced Jarmuschian aspect [Paterson is arguably the twin sister of a Traveller’s needs]. A French teacher who isn’t one, wanders, walks as if in a dream, goes through different episodes and meets different Korean characters. Each dialogue scene seems complex and simple at the same time. Most of all, intriguing. It takes concentration and thought to understand what’s at stake. The relationship between the characters is as vague and difficult to define as the real meaning of the film. Everything seems more or less absurd. The Frenchwoman is not here to give life lessons. On the contrary, she creates, with the people she meets, and on the basis of their stories, simple phrases (haikus) that sum up their problems, their path, their raison d’être. But why is she there? Who is she? A poet? A philosopher? A psychologist? A fairy? In any case, she embodies the pleasant lightness of being.

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