Published Sep 23, 2008Daytime Drinking is a wonderfully bizarre comedy of errors that relies on silence and mood as much as the bizarre events that comprise the story. Shot on video for very little money, this South Korean production is the cinematic debut of director/editor/producer Young-Seok Noh. It is a consistently rewarding balancing act between humour and hopelessness, absurdity and reality.
When Hyuk-Jin (Song Sam-dong) breaks up with his girlfriend, his friends convince him that they should all go on a trip together to Jeongseon. Hyuk-Jin arrives at the intended locale but none of his friends are to be found. As he waits for them to show up, a series of misunderstandings, coupled with odd townspeople and unnecessarily embarrassing situations, disparage his already heartbroken demeanour.
All the while, Hyuk-Jin indulges in the titular pastime, usually with Soju (the Korean fuck-you-up-quick-for-cheap drink). By the end, Hyuk-Jin is being force-fed booze, attempting to refuse it but insulting his only allys hospitality in doing so. This is possibly a light-hearted indictment of the excessive drinking that has become an essential part of Korean culture.
The video aesthetic of Daytime Drinking is grainy and unclear, at times exemplifying the dreariness of the locations, at others reflecting the feelings of the protagonist. It moves at a slow pace but always relative to the events taking place.
Anchored by a brilliantly deadpan lead performance, the surrounding characters seem surreal, though never completely unbelievable. Hyuk-Jins misadventure is to be laughed at, but with a healthy dose of empathy. Its a farce with a conscience. (Finecut)