Cho-haeng   2017   South Korea The First Lap
The First Lap Image Cover
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Director:Dae-hwan Kim
Studio:Bomnae Films
Writer:Dae-hwan Kim
IMDb Rating:6.5 (31 votes)
Awards:1 win & 1 nomination
Duration:100 min
Dae-hwan Kim  ...  (Director)
Dae-hwan Kim  ...  (Writer)
Hyun-Chul Cho  ...  Su-hyeon
Sae-byeok Kim  ...  Ji-young
Comments: At the end of a long day, the couple tries to sleep

When an action point like that is part of the plot synopsis you know what you're in for. They could have added: "While waiting at an intersection the couple calmly discuss whether or not they should have made a right turn earlier"

I thought this film was more of a pure indie thing with new, or no-name, actors. That their wonderful non-acting acting was the result of not having learned how to act yet

Turns out everyone in it is pretty well established. The delightful Kim Sae-byuk has a couple Hong Sang-soo flicks on her resume. You can feel the influence. But The First Lap is gentle. No painful irritation. Even at the family dinners, and even under the influence of alcohol, the characters remain open to empathy. I never felt instructed by the director to feel uncomfortable or repulsed the way I often do watching a Hong film

There are a few narrative burps in search of context but it's a very smooth ride from start to finish for the most part (except that part where it sounds like a baby woke up crying. I didn't get that)

It wouldn't have achieved Korean greatness in my eyes if it hadn't attempted an eye-roller, saved it for last ... and pulled it off: The scene where they are walking along a crowded promenade and they talk about how it seems everyone is going in the opposite direction. So they turn around and walk the other way. They have no destination so why not? Then it seems to them, again, like everyone is going in the opposite direction. Bravo! (not for the idea, but for the actors who made it real)

I have to add:
Another thing Koreans do well is shooting scenes from the back seat of a car where the (arguably) main action takes place in the rear view mirror. You have to watch the scene in this film where the director does that twice. Once for what takes place in front of the car and once for what's in the rear view mirror. Simply wonderful

Summary: Su-hyeon, a teacher at a private art institute and Ji-young, a contract worker at a small network enterprise have been living together for 6 years. To his surprise, Su-hyeon finds out that Ji-young is late on her period. One evening, the couple heads to the new home of Ji-young's parents in Incheon. The housewarming party dissolves in ill humor when Ji-young's mother strongly urges the couple to get married. At the end of a long day, the couple tries to sleep. As Su-hyeon decides to reunite with his family he had been avoiding for some time, the couple sets off for Samcheok at the far end of the east coast.

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