Hong Sang-soo’s ‘Right Now, Wrong Then’ an incisive tale of romantic possibility

Kim Min-hee and Jung Jae-young in the movie "Right Now, Wrong Then."
(Grasshopper Film.)

The prolific South Korean director Hong Sang-soo is often accused of making the same movie over and over again — a criticism that can lose sight of the fact that repetition, in filmmaking and everyday reality, has become one of his signature themes. If anything, “Right Now, Wrong Then,” his finest film in years, suggests that practice makes nearly perfect.

The ingeniously bifurcated story follows a male director (Jung Jae-yeong) who, while attending a film festival, meets a female painter (Kim Min-hee) and reveals his attraction to her in a series of clumsy, liquor-lubricated fits and starts. At the halfway point, the film abruptly rewinds and replays their brief encounter, this time with subtle shifts in tone, inflection, character and attitude that gently and gradually reveal Hong’s mastery. No filmmaker better understands the revelatory properties of small talk and soju, and few could make the art of repetition seem so rife with possibilities.

Winner of the Golden Leopard at last year’s Locarno Film Festival, “Right Now, Wrong Then” is receiving its L.A. premiere courtesy of Acropolis Cinema, a screening series founded and curated by the critic Jordan Cronk, and Grasshopper Film, a new distribution company founded by Ryan Krivoshey. Upcoming presentations include José Luis Guerín’s “The Academy of Muses” and Lav Diaz’s “Storm Children, Book One.”



‘Right Now, Wrong Then’

Where: Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles

When: Saturday, June 25, 4 p.m.

Tickets: $12