One of the better films to play at this year’s New York Film Festival is still without a U.S. distributor. Hong San-soo’s comic rendezvous Turning Gate is built on a series of repetitions that mirror the South Korean director’s fascination with reincarnation. Out-of-work actor Gyung-soo (Kim Sang-kyung) leaves Seoul to visit his friend Seong-wu (Kim Hak-sun) in the country, and it is there that Gyung-soo learns of the Turning Gate myth: A young princess scorns the love of a snake, the reincarnation of a commoner killed by her father. Oblivious to Seong-wu’s affections for Myung-sook (Yeh Ji-won), the indecisive Gyung-soo embarks on a heated affair with the sexy dancer, and when he rejects her love, the actor unknowingly begins to live out the legend of the Turning Gate. Haunted by regret, he wraps himself around a married woman, Sun-young (Chu Sang-mi), familiar with his stage performances. Hong San-soo’s use of repetition (not one but two kisses to break the ice; the regurgitation of dime-store mantra; and Myung-sook’s various dances that end on the same beat) evokes a karmic connection between a secular world and a bygone spiritual one. When Gyung-soo recognizes Sun-young from his past, he declares his undying love not for her but for the memory of Myung-sook. Tragically, this realization cripples his manhood—he suggests suicide and she thinks he’s crazy. This playful yet bittersweet ode to missed opportunities and second chances acknowledges the power of myth for those in a constant state of becoming.
- 115 min
- Hong Sang-soo
- Hong Sang-soo
- Kim Sang-kyung, Chu Sang Mi, Yeh Ji-won, Kim Hak-sun
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