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Woman on the Beach

Modern relationships getting an airing out in this Korean dramedy.

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Film director Kim (Seung-woo Kim) leaves Seoul for the seaside, hoping that the quiet of the off-season will cure his writer's block. But with his producer buddy Chang-wook (Kim Tae-woo) and Chang-wook's sort-of girlfriend Munsook (Hyun-jung Go) in tow, the sojourn becomes a mess of shifting alliances and ultimately, a useful self-examination. The handsome, self-absorbed Kim pursues Munsook, seemingly out of habit. But the sneaky hook-up unleashes a tumble of emotions, frustrations, pleasures and even philosophies. Kim is left to question his failures vis-à-vis work and woman, while Munsook likewise sorts through her relationship pitfalls. Sang-soo Hong's sly dramedy offers little traditional action: Everything is in the characters' mostly banal chatter, in the occasional pointed observations ("You're just like other Korean men," Munsook tells Kim), or within the awkward silences. The story is filmed with exquisite simplicity: The settings are so spare -- a huge featureless beach, a dull hotel room, a cheap restaurant -- that they almost resemble a painted backdrop, casting into sharper relief the frustrated dance that is modern relationships. In Korean, with subtitles. Starts Fri., March 7. Regent Square (AH) [capsule review]

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