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Arts + Life

In Front of Your Face

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“This moment is grace; paradise.” Sangok (Lee Hye—yeong)

Having just published my review of the block-busting Downton Abbey: A New Era, I’m reviewing a minimalist treasure from South-Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo, In Front of Your Face. Although the future for Downton’s Crawley family is problematic but full of sumptuous promise, in Face, life has geared down for middle-aged actress Sangok in a way that lets her see life as “paradise.” Because fate has firmly placed her in the present, she evaluates her life with an existential celebration of its goodness.

Although beyond her inner thoughts, nothing much happens in this short story, being a fan of Seinfeld I’m used to that minimalism. Nothing happens there, yet everything. So, too, in Face, where her coffee with director Jaewon (Kwon Hae-hyo), who wants her to star in his next film, becomes a seduction and a musing about life that could be summed up by saying the world in front of her face is perfect and beautiful.

Writer/director Hong’s camera is almost static, a fine place to concentrate on characters, their simple dialogue, and the subterranean truths that wait to surface, not at once, but distributed gently in the exposition of the story.

Given our isolation over the last few years from the global health crisis, In Front of Your Face is a film perhaps to be seen by yourself as an imitation of its anti-story makeup. It practically begs for you to think of nothing other than your own place in the cosmos. Like her, you may determine to live in the present--you’ll probably determine that life is beautiful.

In Front of Your Face

Director: Hong sang-soo (Introduction)

Screenplay: Hong

Cast: Lee Hye-yeong

Run Time: 1h 25 m

Rating: NR

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts NPR’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics as well as podcasts Back Talk and Double Take out of WCBE 90.5 FM. Contact him at JohnDeSando52@gmail.com