'Yourself and Yours' provides insight into relationships

Patrick Young, Nov. 3, 2016, 10:17 a.m.

What is the advice gurus always have for a happy relationship? Don't try to judge and change the person you love, although you might think you know him or her very well.

Love your partner as he or she is. Otherwise the relationship will fall apart.

Director-screenwriter Hong Sang-soo delivers such an insight in a light way in his 18th feature film "Yourself and Yours." This 86-minute film is intermittently very funny and wows viewers with his meticulous attention to his characters' private lives and sharp-eyed focus on male-female relationships.

Painter Young-soo (Kim Joo-hyuk) hears from his close friend Joong-haeng (Kim Eui-sung) that his girlfriend Min-jeong (Lee Yoo-young) squabbled with a man while drinking together at a neighborhood bar. Upset at the fact that she, a heavy drinker, broke a promise with him to stop drinking without him, Young-soo yells at her and they get into a big fight. Min-jeong instantly leaves him, saying that they should be apart from each other for the time being.

Regreting his actions, Young-soo later goes all around Yeonnam-dong where he lives in northwestern Seoul in search of her but cannot find her.

Meanwhile, Min-jeong, or a woman who bears a close resemblance to her, roams around town and dates other men. She complains to every man she dates that she wants to find true love and meet a decent man. But whenever she meets men who recognizes her, she says she is not Min-jeong, but her twin sister or someone else. "Do you know me?" she asks them back all the time. But the film never confirms whether her claim is true or false, building unresolvable ambiguity into the plot.

Min-jeong's absence gives Young-soo greater insight about their relationship. And then she suddenly shows up before him like magic at the very moment he decides to love her as she is without trying to judge or change her. Min-jeong still denies her identity, but Young-soo doesn't mind whether she is Min-jeong whom he has known for a long time or not and thanks her for being herself this time. And then their relationship is mended.

Like many of Hong's preceding films, the "Yourself and Yours" also has the male protagonist who is cowardly and unmanly but frank and a female character who is as cunning in seducing men. The director also uses his trademark long takes, with occasional zooms, as well as dream or fantasy scenes, and repetition of similar sequences. But those who are tired of his repetitive cinematic grammar may want something new.

"Yourself and Yours" is set to open in local theaters on Nov. 10. It was invited to seven international film festivals, including San Sebastian, Toronto, Vancouver and New York earlier in the year. (Yonhap)

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