Introduction ★★★★

"Introduction takes this last theme as its central conflict, featuring Hong’s first true young adult protagonists for the first time in many years. Young-ho (Shin Seok-ho, a cheery face amidst the dour visages of Hong’s typical male leads) serves as the primary guide, along with his girlfriend Ju-won (Park Mi-so, the only main actor here who hasn’t been in a Hong film before), who both navigate what, in other hands, could be a conventional premise: two young people trying to find their places in the world while dealing with relationship issues, all the while being prompted and challenged by their parents, idols, and other elders.

The progression is considerably complicated here: unfolding in three parts, the last of which takes up half the film, Introduction centers on interactions that lack overt narrative meaning but which firmly establish a certain tone of malaise and uncertainty. Much of this has to do with the downplayed nature of the introductions or conversations that initially seemed so important to the characters. In the first part, Young-ho is left waiting to meet his father (Kim Young-ho), who is occupied with an old friend, a respected actor (Ki Joo-bong) who dropped in unexpectedly. Some months later, Ju-won, who is moving to Hamburg for fashion school in the second part, cuts off her initial meeting with a past acquaintance (Kim Min-hee) of her mother (Hong regular Seo Young-hwa) to reunite with Young-ho, who has impulsively made a quick trip and issues a promise to move to be with his love."

Reviewed, along with In Front of Your Face, for Reverse Shot.

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