A scene from film "Late Autumn" [& Credit]
Anna (Tang Wei), who had been serving time in prison for the seventh year for killing her husband, is told one day that her mother has passed away. After receiving permission to go on a 72-hour parole from jail, Anna gets onto a bus to Seattle to attend her mother's funeral, where she meets with Hoon (Hyun Bin) who is seemingly running away from someone. And unlike Anna whose heart and body are sealed off from the world, Hoon's are completely open. One late autumn, the man who walks with his hands thrust into the pockets of his coat and the woman who has her arms drooped out and toward the ground, very briefly hold hands on the corner of this foggy city.
Anticipation Quotient: 9
A late autumn version of "In the Mood for Love"
What comes at the end of love? Marriage or separation? If so, then Anna is a woman who has already witnessed what is at both ends. The fateful love she wanted to restore, even if it meant having to break her marriage vows, concludes with the man ending up becoming someone who was greedy enough to 'want someone else's fork.' Her lover has left, her husband is dead, so she does not need love in her life -- until Hoon appears before her, like a sudden gust of wind. He says he will become the man she wants. A good man if she likes good men and a bad man if she likes bad men. And these two, who are complete strangers, spend a brief time together. They eat, go to an amusement park, walk about a market, momentarily desire for the other's body, and in the end, share a kiss. So could you call that love? "Late Autumn" has a simple answer to that question. "Just being with someone... it's nice, isn't it?"
"Late Autumn" does not obsess over showing how a love comes about and what it becomes nor is it affected by the time constraint the two characters are faced with. It rather simply starts off with 72 hours on the clock and takes off on the journey of testing how to turn a moment into eternity. Anna and Hoon take off at complete opposite ends, briefly meet mid-way, and end up at other opposite ends once again. The man who treated his life as something as light as a feather, gets faced with a more serious life and the woman who lived with a pendulum as heavy as large as a rock, gets to set aside some of her baggage. The movie is about the short-lived love between a man and woman who meet in an unfamiliar setting but it does not leave behind a pure excitement that was felt in "Before Sunrise" nor the indefinite hope from "Before Sunset." "Late Autumn" is not interested in accumulating on incidents. Dramatic incidents happen before or after their intersection. And it instead quietly gazes at the subtle changes in mood between Hoon and Anna during the three days their lives crossover each others.
Hoon and Anna communicate in English, not Chinese and not Korean. But with them being less than fluent in other languages, Hoon repeats "Hao (good)" and "Huai (bad)" as if listening attentively to what Anna is saying about her pain from the past, creating the miracle that the two have an understanding of each other which reaches beyond their differences in language. By deluding themselves into thinking they understand what the other is saying and by breaking the myth about how love is related to material time, Anna and Hoon finally meet a 'full autumn' instead of a 'late autumn.' In a way, what Anna my have left behind is not the fact that she is waiting for Hoon or spring to come. For some loves in life, a few short days in autumn is enough. No, it actually may be the best.
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