While Hong has long exalted women in his movies, "Nobody's Daughter Haewon" and now "Our Sunhi" signal a small but significant shift in perspective, largely or entirely unfolding through the eyes of their female protagonists (whose names, in both cases, also figure in the pics' titles). Wonderfully played by the gamine Jung Yu-mi (in her third collaboration with Hong), Sunhi is a recent film-school grad first seen returning to her alma mater to solicit a recommendation letter from her former teacher, Professor Choi (Kim Sang-joong). Sunhi wishes to continue her studies in America, and while the professor tries to dissuade her, stressing the value of practical experience over theory, he finally agrees. There's just one caveat: He can only write an "honest" letter -- a ploy that leads to a rich comic payoff later on.
Hong has a lot of fun orchestrating these various comings and goings which, as in a classic farce, revolve around the idea of all three men pursuing the same woman without realizing it -- until Hong brings them all together for a dryly hilarious climax set on the grounds of Seoul's Changgyeonggung Palace. In between, Hong sets up multiple drunken encounters for Sunhi and her suitors, who offer life lessons and career advice that invariably come across as more self-serving than magnanimous. Throughout, Jung ("Oki's Movie," "In Another Country") again proves herself a deft comedienne, with a pouty, somewhat petulant demeanor that says she wishes the world could be more her way.
One of the pic's repeated mantras, "Dig deep," sounds like Hong's own advice to himself -- a filmmaker who, like a seasoned jazz musician, produces endless variations on a theme, but within that seemingly narrow band uncovers surprising depths of insight and feeling. Like Eric Rohmer (to whom he has often been likened) or Woody Allen (whose work ethic he shares), Hong can sometimes seem to dash off a film with less than his usual rigor, but "Our Sunhi" benefits from a leanness and sense of purpose absent from some of Hong's other recent efforts (like the overlong "Hahaha"). It's a film in which one senses Hong's technique drained of all excess moisture, as if the film had been set out overnight in a bag of rice.
Technically, the pic sports Hong's usual (albeit instantly recognizable) lo-fi look, continuing his recent fascination with abrupt zooms.
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