At a solitary riverside hotel, two melancholic stories intersect. In the first, an aging poet named Young-hwan—Ki Joo-bong, in a performance that won him the best actor prize at the prestigious Locarno International Film Festival—summons his two adult sons as he senses his life ending. In the second, a heartbroken young woman (Hong regular and the director’s real-life girlfriend Kim Min-hee, On the Beach at Night Alone) is consoled by a visiting female friend. Young-hwan is immediately struck by the angelic beauty of the women, prompting the older man to introduce himself as he sees them walking through the freshly fallen winter snow. Shot with a fluid hand-held camera in gauzy black-and-white, Hotel by the River is no less than the fifth new film by director Hong Sang-soo (Claire’s Camera) to be released in the US (and at OKCMOA) in the past two-and-a-half years. And for many critics, it is one of the most filmmaker’s most affecting efforts in its explorations of the themes of family, mortality, and the ways we repair old wounds.
Director Hong Sang-soo | 2018 | In Korean with English subtitles | 96 minutes | NR | DCP