Isabelle Huppert's South Korean Adventures

By Dupont, Joan | International Herald Tribune, May 19, 2012 | Go to article overview

Isabelle Huppert's South Korean Adventures


Dupont, Joan, International Herald Tribune


Isabelle Huppert returns to the competition at Cannes in a starring role in "In Another Country" by the South Korean director Hong Sang-soo.

The director Hong Sang-soo, who has been called the Rohmer of Korean cinema, turns out his enigmatic human comedies at high speed. Two years ago, he won the Certain Regard prize with "Hahaha." His latest film, "In Another Country," in competition here, is a step into another dimension.

For the first time, he has made a film in English and has gone outside his country to cast the French actress Isabelle Huppert in the lead role.

Ms. Huppert, who started acting as a teenager in the 1970s, has been many things to many directors. She won her first Best Actress award at Cannes for her role in Claude Chabrol's "Violette Noziere" (1978). It happened before that she had two films at Cannes at once - - and it is the case this year.

In Mr. Hong's film, which will be screened on Sunday, she plays three different women named Anne. "I loved the adventurous aspect to making this movie," the actress said. "And adventure is at the vital center of the story."

She first met the Mr. Hong at the Paris Cinematheque in March 2011 at a retrospective of his films. "I think the idea was already in his head, perhaps, the desire to work together. And then we met again in Seoul for a show of photos of my work."

She said she let herself be transported by a project without a script and was delighted to play the game, traveling to a beach town, Mohang, South Korea, in a very rainy season.

"I don't know all his films, but I think he always works the same way," Ms. Huppert said. "He starts with the place, finds the people, and only then, writes the script. So it gives an enigmatic cast to everything -- and to the way we work. He has a curious, atypical relationship to his film. He's very exacting, and precise, and there are lots of takes, he's not ever in a rush."

The first Anne is a director, the second, a woman meeting her lover secretly, and the third, a woman on the rebound whose husband has run off with a Korean woman. The three meet up with one recurring character, a lifeguard played by Yu Jun-Sang. "Anne starts with him and ends up with him, on the beach."

She sees her character as several versions of the same woman. "The first Anne meets a man who says they kissed and she can't remember; she's preoccupied, but in control," Ms. Huppert said. "The second is dependant on her lover who doesn't take good care of her. …

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