To judge by his most recent films, productive Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo is shifting (ever so slightly) away from male characters who are falling apart towards women who are relatively intact. In Claire's Camera, one of three Hong features that premiered in 2017, he also plays with time (a fractured narrative) and language (characters speak Korean, French, and English).
Isabelle Huppert, in her second go-round with the filmmaker, plays a music teacher visiting Cannes during the film festival. At different times, Claire bonds with So (Jin-young Jung), a director, and Manhee (Min-hee Kim), the sales rep with whom he had a one-night stand ("95% of my mistakes in life were because of alcohol," he laments). When the rep's boss, Yanghye (Mi-hee Chang), finds out, she fires Manhee for "dishonesty." Claire, who always has a Polaroid camera at her side, takes separate pictures of the three of them, explaining, "If I take a photo of you, you are not the same person anymore."
Though Huppert's billing is sure to garner the most attention, the film belongs to Kim as much as Hong's On the Beach at Night Alone. If her English seems charmingly shaky at first, she grows in fluency by the end of this brief, but perfectly formed picture (Hong shot it in 2016 while Huppert was in Cannes promoting Elle). By the end, Claire's camera really has changed her life.
For more information about this and other films opening this week, visit Movie Times.