Hill of Freedom
Hill of FreedomOriginal Title: Jayuui Eondeok
Director: Hong Sang-soo
South Korea | English, Korean
Subtitles: Arabic and English
“Are you here for business or pleasure?' This question is posed several times to Mori (Kase Ryo), a Japanese man who has returned to Seoul in search of the one who got away, his former language-school colleague Kwon (Seo Young-hwa). Two years earlier she had turned down his proposal, but unable to forget her, Mori is determined to win back the woman he loves. The first glitch in this plan is that Kwon is nowhere to be found. While he waits, Mori details his sojourn in a series of undated letters. When Kwon receives the bundle, she drops the pages, jumbling the narrative, which then plays out in the order that she reads each missive.
Starting with this bold approach to film structure, fans of Hong Sang-soo’s work will recognize many familiar tropes, miscommunication being another. Unable to speak Korean, Mori must use broken English, including with the pretty owner (Moon So-ri) of the titular café, a clean, well-lighted place where he passes the days reading a book about the illusion of time. Hilarious and often awkward moments result as Mori attempts to express himself and connect those who cross his path. Indeed, Hill of Freedom is probably the funniest film thus far by the prolific auteur and masterful observer of relationships. Without any hesitation, audiences will be able to declare that pleasure is what they gained.