Directed by Hong Sang-soo
Official Selection, 2017 Cannes Film Festival
Artists in hiding, drunken filmmakers, women on the beach: these are some of Hong Sang-soo’s favorite archetypes. CLAIRE’S CAMERA, one of three new films from the prolific South Korean director in 2017, might be the first to feature all three. Shot on location during the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, this delightful 69-minute trifle charts a series of circular conversations between recently fired sales agent Manhee (Kim Min-hee), the drunken auteur (Jung Jin-young) who seduced her, and a French tourist named Claire (Isabelle Huppert) who befriends them both.
Unspooling gracefully in non-linear order, CLAIRE’S CAMERA breezes through extended dialogue sequences set in restaurants and rooftops overlooking the Croisette. Each one pivots around the notion of truth, something that is constantly skewed by perspective, impulse, and artistic expression. Implied accusations are the weaponry of the weak, while strong and passionate characters communicate like birds through repetitive singsong declarations of agreement.
As with every Hong film, people often use words and gestures to dance around the truth. This particular call-and-response style takes on a meta-quality when Claire describes the soul-altering effects of being photographed, or when Manhee correctly proclaims, “maturity has nothing to do with making films.” It all adds up to a beautifully incomplete portrait of crisscrossing personas whose emotional and psychological shape changes depending on the vantage point. –Glenn Heath, Jr.