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Woman is the Future of Man?

Posted April. 27, 2004 21:17,   


The Woman’s Past—

“Why are you late?” (Heon-joon)

“I was dragged to a motel (by an upperclassman). I was raped there.” (Seon-hwa)

“You can only become clean again by having sex with me. You know that, right?” (Heon-joon)

“I want to be clean. Make me clean.” (Seon-hwa)

Sung Hyun-ah: I don’t want to deny my past and say, “I didn’t do it.” Even the book of nude photos. I want to brush it all away with this movie: my past, people’s prejudices, everything that followed me around for years like a tag. This movie allowed me to channel positive energy from the director and my costars.

Hong Sang-soo: I hit it off with Sung Hyun-ah. It wasn’t so much her acting ability or her existing image, but her passion—her desire to find something new through this movie… I could sense her real personality, not her public one as an actress.

The Everyday—

“You have hairy legs.” (Moon-ho, postcoital)

“I do—I haven’t shaved in a while.” (Seon-hwa)

“Oh… So women shave their legs…” (Moon-ho)

Hong: The movie takes a good hard look at the fictitiousness of our beliefs through the act of sex. Heon-joon is bound by his conceptions of chastity, whereas his underclassman Moon-ho is engrossed by the body, saying stupid things like, “Oh, you got a new hairstyle,” “Your moans are so pretty,” “You have hair on your legs.” I find that contrast amusing. For me, sex scenes are never just “action”; they’re a “piece” of the puzzle, embedded with conversation or conflict.

Sung: You know, like when you go on a group blind date in college. A speck of pepper in the guy’s teeth can gross you out. I think that’s what being young is. Being freaked out by leg hair, and deciding to break up because of it.

(In fact, director Hong instructed Sung to drink soju, sleep on the set, and start shooting as soon as she awoke, complete with the inevitable puffy face and husky voice. “The director told me that the heroine of a movie can’t always wake up pristine and beautiful,” Sung laughingly remarked, “like Vivien Leigh, stretching and chirping, ‘Ah, that was nice.’”)

Woman is the Future of Man—

“What did I say? Didn’t I tell you not to do that?” (at Moon-ho, as he gropes under her skirt)

“I honestly didn’t hear you.” (Moon-ho)

“Men are all the same. I might really have gone to bed with you if you’d just held me.” (Seon-hwa)

Hong: The title is overly conclusive. But no matter how many times I hear that phrase, it leaves me dazed and unconvinced. I was interested in that sense of divergence.

The title doesn’t necessarily have to explain the movie, right? So what, if you say, “Woman is the future of man”…? I don’t decide on a clear message, and then come up with the appropriate details to convey that message. I work the other way around: the “pieces” (details) come to me first, and I assemble them into a whole. I only realize, “Oh, so that was what I wanted to express,” after I’ve seen the audience’s reaction. You love your own children (movies), of course, but usually it’s the teachers and friends that give you the more objective description of their personalities.

Sung: Are men vulgar? No, I think they’re really adorable. I find their misguided bravado kind of cute, like when Heon-joon asks Seon-hwa to forgive him and says, “Burn me (with your cigarette).” Men as animals are true to their feelings. In the movie, two men suddenly remember a woman from their mutual past while drinking, and spontaneously go looking for her. And the woman takes these men into her arms and her bed. A woman like that—whether she’s of the past or of what’s to come—can be the “future of man.” Men should remember, though, that the “future” is not always going to be a happy one.

Seung-Jae Lee sjda@donga.com