Seo Young-hwa, Yang Heung-ju, Lee Sang-hee,
Stranded overnight in a remote temple town, middle-aged couple Eun-ju and Heung-ju are cast adrift with strangers in a mysterious environment. The objective of the couple’s visit was to try to recapture the spark of their younger years, but it instead unfolds as an inquiry into the current state of their relationship, in the conversational vein of master directors Hong Sang-soo and Abbas Kiarostami. The evocative wintry setting and enigmatic origins of the subsidiary characters add just the right element of Shakespearean magical realism to Jang Woo-jin’s intimate, moving story.
“Hitting emotional grace notes that belie his relatively tender years, thirty-three-year-old South Korean auteur/director Jang Woo-jin offers a bittersweet rumination on love, marriage, and midlife disillusionment in this quietly enchanting third feature. . . . The film’s visual grammar is poised and precise, but understated enough to serve the story above all else. Jang and cinematographer Yang Jeonghoon favor still, empty, symmetrical composition, marking scene divisions with painted historical tableaux. The nocturnal setting, with its frozen waterfalls and neon-lit snowscapes, lends an alluringly alien beauty to this Midwinter Night’s Dream.”—Stephen Dalton, Hollywood Reporter