The Woman Who Ran (Domangchin yeoja)
Taken at face value, the gentle, meandering exchanges between a woman and her various friends and neighbours as depicted in The Woman Who Ran don’t appear all that meaningful.They could even add a sense of mundanity to the onscreen “action”. But South Korean director Hong Sang-soo is a minimalist, and to form an emotional connection with his latest effort – or to form any sort of opinion at all about the film – will depend on whether an audience can (or wants to) detect the concealed intentions behind it all.
Gam-hee (Kim Min-hee), a florist living on the outskirts of Seoul, is at a loose end while her husband is away. She visits two friends, and then goes to the cinema where she runs into another who happens to be working there. This might sound like a meagre synopsis, but it’s largely the extent of the describable plot. Having said that, it’s very much this third encounter that has the most tangible meaning, although in keeping with the established form of the piece (and arguably the entirety of Sang-soo’s oeuvre), any implication is subjective.
Ostensibly a story about women, the representation of men in The Woman Who Ran is conspicuous. Only seen from behind, either silhouetted or with cinematographer Kim Sumin’s camera practically poking over their shoulder, it’s as though the male characters are encroaching on something – not necessarily something they shouldn’t (after all, they’re only briefly interrupting a few seemingly perfunctory conversations), but their presence is negligible.
Sang-soo, through a prolific lightness of touch in his 24th film, has created a piece of domestic realism that is breezy on the surface, but verges on being brittle in places. There’s much to read between the lines, however it’s entirely possible that audiences might find the reading material to be too slight. The Woman Who Ran is a reserved movie, and its reservation can feel a tad burdensome at times.
The Woman Who Ran (Domangchin yeoja) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2020 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for The Woman Who Ran (Domangchin yeoja) here: