A scene from film "Late Autumn" [Courtesy of PIFF]
A space thick with fog. The coincidental meeting between a Korean man and Chinese woman. And that too in the unfamiliar city of Seattle. The time they spend loving each other -- 72 hours. The countless number of fallen leaves which fluttered around in the air in director Lee Man-hee's 1966 film "Late Autumn" are gone and the setting too has changed from Korea to the United States. But the solitary vibe which surrounds the two remains so unchanged that it pales the fact that 45 years have passed. Anna (played by Tang Wei), who is in jail after murdering her violent husband, has an only blood tie who is tied up with splitting up her deceased parents inheritance and Hoon (played by Hyun Bin) is always on the run from the husband of the woman he has an affair with. Both characters have no cozy home to go to nor person to rely on. And that is the emotion that the three-day love between Anna and Hoon takes off from -- loneliness -- when Anna lends Hoon money in exchange for his watch.
The reason that the two's relationship seems more special than that observed in any other melodrama is because they do not say they love each other. "Thank you for listening to my story" is all that Anna utters to Hoon in a low voice as she throws her arms around him and Hoon expresses his affection for Anna by telling her "I want to make you smile" everytime he meets her. In such a way, the love story of this lonely man and woman overlap with the desolate image of Seattle for two hours. And because the story and imagery share a common point, the message that "Late Autumn" suggests is delivered straight to the heart and not the brain. It is to the extent that their passionate kiss at the end of their meeting reveals their anxiety over having to go back to being alone rather than being in love. The movie is a thumbs up if you want a two-hour hike in experiencing the emotion of loneliness.
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