Directed by: Kim Tae-yong
Written by: Kim Tae-yong
Produced by: Jo Seong-woo and Lee Ju-ik
Cast: Tang Wei and Hyun Bin
Late Autumn is an atmospheric love story about two lost souls. Two people trying to escape the brutal reality of their lives, even for a brief moment. Atmospheric for its backdrop of the Pacific Northwest. It shares its look with the dank weather of Seattle. In this case, the infamous constant foggy and rainy look. Though Late Autumn is dimmer looking than most films, it rather sets a nice ambiance for its characters’ moods and struggles to play out. Without this particular backdrop, the story’s ambiance wouldn’t just be the same. Even the soundtrack is subtler than most films, and at moments Late Autumn completely relies on the natural sounds of the environment. The acting follows suit; it is a more subtle form of acting that relies less upon dialogue usually, but instead the facial expressions of its actors. The best example of such a thing is the lead character Anna Chen, a woman of a few words, but whose face has more than enough expression to state her inner thoughts. This isn’t only a testament to Tang Wei’s acting skills, but also to the strong cinematic direction of the film. There are moments that do more than enough to show Anna’s feelings that dialogue isn’t even necessary at all. Such as Anna’s hesitation to return when she stands in line twice for a ticket without buying one and not saying a single word. You aren’t aware of the truth about Anna’s situation until the halfway point of the film yet Anna’s constant depressed state is more than enough to evoke some sympathy for her. The world appears cold to Anna and her predicament. Even her own family refuses to interact with her on a one-on-one basis during one moment. The only person that actually shows her true human affection is Hoon. A slight distinction that gives the interactions between Anna and Hoon all the more significance. Hoon’s predicament, though doesn’t receive the most attention at; first, it holds a special importance for the ending of the film. It isn’t what you would expect, it’s partly tragic, and it’s partly heartwarming. But, it’s a nice nod to all of their previous character interactions. Let’s just say; it involves some form of role playing.
It is hard to deny there is an underlying humanity from the ”realness” the Late Autumn presents. Nothing really feels glamourize here; you don’t want to be in any of the characters’ predicament. From the constant awkward character interactions that serve as comic relief to the awkward character interaction that serves as the fierce confrontation between Anna and her ex-lover. There isn’t an ounce of overacting here; I wouldn’t be surprised if any amount of overacting would ruin the whole ambiance of the film.
Late Autumn’s weakness comes from its dialogue. Not the actual writing itself, but the rather the execution of the dialogue. None of the lead actors are fluent in English, so some of the delivery is clumsy or awkward. Han is the worst offender of this, he’s supposed to be a sly womanizer, but his delivery of the English dialogue doesn’t suggest this. At least Hoon’s actor has enough charm to make you think he is a womanizer. Though, this shortcoming drags the film’s quality down a bit, but it’s a drop in the bucket for me. Others, I think might be more annoyed at this. It’s a flaw that’s the result of the constant multilingualism.
Although Late Autumn is a gloomy picture, there is a certain warmness to its innate gloominess because of its central love story.