Their Last Love Affair

World Premiere | Out of Competition | PART 2 - A/B side VIBES. Greatest Hits from ‘80s & ‘90s | tribute to LEE Myung-se

 

Guest star:
LEE Myung-se, director

 

The screening will be followed by LEE Myung-se's masterclass.

 

From their very first meeting, there is something desperate to the way that the journalist Kim Young-hee and the poet/professor Choi Young-min are pulled towards each other.

Having read her glowing review of his poetry, he asks a colleague to invite her along for dinner and drinks. Perhaps he had lost his mind for her even before they met. He is married, with two children. She is single, but feeling the urge to settle down. They are wrong for each other in every way, but powerless to stop their mutual attraction, and very quickly they are in over their heads.

Adultery is one of the oldest topics in cinema, but Lee Myung-se’s Their Last Love Affair makes you feel like you are watching it for the first time. The relationship he portrays in this film is never romanticized, although the emotions it unleashes are nothing if not intense. The late Kang Soo-yeon gives a shimmering performance, reminding us of how much she contributed to Korean cinema through the sheer force of her presence.

Kim Ghap-soo also gives one of the most effective and multi-layered performances of his career.

But Lee Myung-se makes the film stand out in other ways, too. He is a master of mood through his precise control of color, movement and light, and the various spaces and locations that the characters move through play a big part in communicating their shifting emotional states. In the second half of the film, the couple relocates to an improvised home by the sea, and there’s something both movingly down-to-earth and otherworldly about this temporary, contradictory space that makes it incredibly memorable.

But there are also very dark moments in this story, when the hopelessness of their situation causes the couple to lash out at each other. Young-min in particular is prone to fits of jealous violence, sometimes quite frightening. He is hateful in these moments, and the film doesn’t ask us to understand or forgive him. Nonetheless there remains something quite sad and lingering about the doomed nature of this romance, so that by the end of the film we are feeling many different emotions at once.

With today’s perspective, we can see that Their Last Love Affair marked a moment of transition for director Lee Myung-se. There are some enigmatic, brief scenes in this film that don’t connect in any way with the plot, but which now look like a foreshadowing of Lee’s shift to crime and action-based storytelling in Nowhere to Hide. If the playful, innovative style he showed in the early part of his career could sometimes be described as fanciful, that word no longer applied to the films he would make from this point on.

Lee’s creativity would become more focused and sharp, and his worldview darker. It would result in some amazing films, and this one stands among the best of them.

Darcy Paquet
Film director: LEE Myung-se
Year: 1996
Running time: 107'
Country: South Korea
26/04 - 2:00 PM
Visionario, Via Asquini 33
26-04-2024 14:00 26-04-2024 16:47Europe/Rome Their Last Love Affair Far East Film Festival Visionario, Via Asquini 33CEC Udine cec@cecudine.org
Online in Italy until the end of the Festival

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