Power of Kangwon Province, The (1998)

November 17, 2003 • Film, Reviews

Country: Korea
Director: Sang Soo Hong
Writer: Sang Soo Hong

Cast: Jong hak Baek, Jaehyun Chun, Sunyoung Im

Running Time: 110 Min

Plot: Power is the word. Modern master Hong Sang-Soo, a director comparable to Antonioni or Bergman, demonstrates again in this sophomore effort a drive to make unprecedented films with his own, individual style. The Power of Kangwon Province, following his masterful debut, The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well, does not fail to meet my naturally high expectations of the director.

An assistant professor and one of his students call off their affair. Then, through happenstance, they end up taking trips to Kangwon Province at the exact same time. They have similar experiences there, and almost see each other, but the expected meeting does not occur. Like Antonioni on his best day, Hong weaves these minimal story elements into an absorbing, moody film, with all the mystery and atmosphere that real life seems to have in a place like Kangwon Province.

As per his quadratic narrative in The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well, Hong divides this film into two independent stories, which almost connect, but not quite. This brilliant cinematic experiment is probably the most daring film of 1998. It’s even better than Pig, which gives it some pretty significant weight. This is a film that ought to be mandatory viewing for anyone limited enough to stick to traditional dramatic structure; it’ll change their views on what a movie even is.

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