Short take on Late Autumn (2010/2011)

Saw Late Autumn at last, after 2 years of waiting. I still remember quite vividly, the hype and buzz that it’d garnered just before it took to filming, into it, and then before it was released and screened in the US (I think, just not my country). People mounted expectations on the star-hyped film. Hyun Bin and Tang Wei, you had the best crop (considerably IMO) from both Korea and China. An intriguing story about love and connection between 2 drastically different individuals. And a well known director Kim Tae Yong to helm the production. It was quite easy to hope and expect for something stellar. Everyone was waiting to be blown away.

I’m not sure whether it did tho, because I came in relatively late into the game. The film was released like 1-2 years ago if I’m not wrong, and I was only able to find a proper DL link just a month ago. What I knew from before – Tang Wei had won numerous awards and accolades for her performance as Anna, yes even in Korea (that must mean something I thought). And Hyun Bin played a charming gigolo that’s it.

And charming he was indeed.

LA’s approach is very greyish, somber and somewhat depressing. It starts with gloom, and ends quite dispiritingly and weighty. There isn’t much light or vibrancy to the tone or mood at all. It’s very similar to the approach taken in Hyun Bin’s brillaint but underrated Friend, Our Legend. Grey skies, dark clouds, rain, desolation, you name it. So it’s totally not surprising if people find it boring and dull. For me, it was good and enjoyable (I didn’t fall asleep or anything and that’s good enough), but sadly it didn’t quite pack the right punches for me (I’ll get to that later).

Hyun Bin and Tang Wei gave very credible performances as Hoon and Anna. They injected a good amount of depth and nuance into their characters and convinced me well enough that they connected right off the bat. Hyun Bin played Hoon with suaveness and charm, and stretched it even more with underlying endearment and sensitivity. His connection with Tang Wei’s Anna was believable, delivered so convincingly that it was difficult not to love him. I loved that he was confident of himself and yet understanding enough to allow Anna to be herself with him. And I was especially appreciative of the extra mile he took just to be her company for a day. It’s an extremely sweet gesture. I don’t think Hoon’s difficult to pull off at all (it’s all done before in K-drama and most actors are capable of doing it), but not everyone is a chemistry magnet and can click with anyone. And for HB to have been able to spark that kind of chemistry with TW in the film, you have to give him major credits.

It takes 2 to tango of course, not forgetting the lovely darling Tang Wei. She was the revelation for me in this film. Anna. I loved her elusive and evasive attitude placed in guise of her insecurity and possibly her fear of the world outside. I liked that she didn’t have to say anything and I could feel her world and loneliness thru her eyes. Tang Wei has a very unique acting ability, I’m sure it’s part of her charisma too – to be able to engage with the audience with her implosive and bottled up emotions. She rarely overacts, and neither does she underacts. She’s mostly, always very engrossed in nailing the bits of nuance in her expressions. They’re always very refined and defined, it’s impossible to miss.

But there is no such thing as perfect, unfortunately. I think the film was aptly directed to suit the mood and to reflect Anna’s loneliness and her journey to seek consolation. However, in a bigger picture, it wasn’t WOW or anything, especially with the writing combined. The combo wasn’t bad per se, but it wasn’t up to my expectations. I felt it’d tried too hard to make us feel for both characters through their journey and companionship together (when it was mostly the actors’ performances which did the job). I also had some gripes with the pacing of the story and about how some of scenes just felt a tad disjointed. Perhaps it’s just the preconceived notion that I’d had – that it’s impossible to feel so much and so deeply for another individual in a span of 1-2 days, that understanding and connection takes time to build and forge. I guess a lot may say that it’s exactly what the film’s trying to convey. That regardless of time, space (and race), it’s merely about 2 people connecting through something that they have in common – loneliness and the yearning to have company. It makes complete sense, but I wasn’t entirely convinced. It felt forced if I may be honest. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy their journey together, it’s just that I’m not sure if I’d enjoy it as much if the characters hadn’t been portrayed by such effective actors. It (writing) was IMO, mediocre at best.

Overall, this film did what it had to do – it showed us how loneliness can be eased by just a comforting and understanding presence. Yes, there were problems with it. But there’s no denying that it was beautifully filmed and directed, and most importantly, earnestly and genuinely acted out by the actors. If there’s 1 thing to look for in this film, it’s definitely Hyun Bin and Tang Wei’s performances, and their awesome chemistry together. They’re from different countries, they speak different languages, but the barriers were almost non-existent with the considerably decent spoken English thru out. Amongst everything, just check this film out for them. You won’t be disappointed I assure you.

Last but not least, have an MV – Late Autumn sung by Tang Wei

Rating: 7/ 10

credits: as tagged / @ Youtube

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11 thoughts on “Short take on Late Autumn (2010/2011)”

  1. It’s a decent slow romance flick. I’d watch it if it’s on TV on rainy days but definitely wouldn’t hunt down just to watch it. But I did check it out because of Hyun Bin. Ha!

    The English spoken was decent, Hyun Bin is definitely better when he’s speaking Korean. At times when he converse in English, it seems like he’s ‘singing’ (hard to explain)

    Anyways, this film is extremely popular with the Chinese audience according to the BO reports. It didn’t do well back home, in fact, I think it bombed at the Korea BO. Glad it find success oversea and help jump-start Hyun Bin’s film career ~ more movies for him after military!

    1. Yeap, it did incredibly well in China, and received generally positive reviews. I wonder why it didn’t click well with the Korean audience tho, since they’re so used to artistic and unconventional approaches in their films. And LA’s sorta along that line. TW has also won many awards in Korea for her performance, I’d assumed the people loved the film because of her.

      Both their spoken English were considerably good. I’m sure Hyun Bin practised hard, the effort discernible from his pronunciation. But I was more surprised by TW’s.. she sounded even better/fluent than me LOL

  2. I think you summed up this movie very well. The chemistry between the two leads was moving. I enjoyed the movie yet felt it was lacking something.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting! ^^

      I think it lacked fluidity and soul? It had the heart alright, evident from Hoon and Anna’s interactions. But somehow at some point in time, it became more of a show of HB and TW’s performance and chemistry more than anything. The story itself didn’t grip me as much as I’d wanted it to.

  3. I saw this a year/year and a half ago when it played at CGV in Los Angeles. I liked it, but there was something missing with the film as a whole. I love Hyun Bin and Tang Wei and they had great chemistry together (their kiss scene…ohhhh weee….) but there was just something missing. I remember there was a scene in the middle of the film. I can’t recall it exactly (I vaguely remember a merry go round and an odd time lapse…maybe…. I don’t know but it was weird) but it was this really odd sequence that felt somewhat out of place and it threw me off and took me out of the film for a moment. That said, I would watch this again just for the performances as Hyun Bin and especially Tang Wei, were fantastic.

    1. I actually liked that scene, it was weird and unique on its own, and it didn’t fail to intrigue me. But when put in the context of the whole film, it did a feel a tad out of place. The mimicking part was interesting, but when they got to the dancing part, the steam just cut-off, I felt I was watching something totally different.

      My fav scene of all has to be that of Anna confiding in Hoon in Mandarin. It was the best sequence in the entire film. Just 2 people talking, with one telling and the other listening out. Nicely acted out by both actors.

  4. I agree with everything you’ve said, chingu! I must’ve written an extremely similar in gist review back then, just with my usu rambling ways..

    It didn’t get as positive a feedback in K because this is a remake of a classic vs CN audience with so much WANT! for a TangWei arthouse for years since her ban post Lust, Caution. And I do know a lot of binnie fans went to see the movie in gangs, some organized viewing parties where they bought out all the seats of the theater, some see it t least once every day it’s on. My Korean gf whom I went to see it with, her mom refused to go see it coz she’s heard of the grumble of it in K reviews of it being sorely subpar than the original….and she rem the original very fondly and don’t want that memory tarnished.. I keep forgetting I need to watch the 60s movie.

    @Sweetiepie
    that is also exactly the scene taking me out of the movie It was so much better laid out in the movie tie-in novel I just read though… I felt the pd and writer made some crucially poor editing in the storytelling, making it less effective for us to be as emotionally involved. In the book, the amusement park is where Anna went on her very first date of her life with that first love scumbag who she’s supposed to run away with that fateful day. So it was an extremely emotional to the hilt day now that it’s closing for good and Hoon sensed that heightened feelings from her being the sensitive gigilo he is, and they lingered in that amusing park, exhausting everything they can amuse themselves with…hence that impromptu ad lib of what lovers do or say.

    1. Yes mookie, I remember you did write something. I remember something about you not loving it, and your parents or friends complaining or somethin lol 1.5 years ago! Poor me had to wait until now to get a decent DL link hehe cos cinemas here rarely do artsy non-mainstream stuff, I never get to see the good stuff on the big screen. But the most recent we’ve got (surprisingly) – The War of Flowers and Simple Life, which I missed because no friends of mine are actually into those kinda movies ! ARHH~~

      Ahh, now I get it. Perhaps I missed it but did the movie pin point that all that (exbfrunningway) had happened there in that amusement part? Cos it sure did seem out of place when Anna suddenly joined Hoon’s mimicking. It was amusing for me, but kinda weird in the context of the movie. And what was the dancing all about? hmmmm…

      1. No, it’s completely left out in the movie! I mean it’s too much to expect fr TW if she’s going to convey all that history with a contemplative glance or so. The PD is trying to convey even though Anna and Hoon have no chance (more spec. no time) to develop the relationship, and have no hearts to, or so they thought…sparks r undeniably flying and their hearts r both fluttering. Through that couple, they wanna project the ‘what ifs’, they r both nudging their state of mind to each other through the make-belief in the round-about way that’s also blatantly telling what they r having, this whole thing, is a dream, so farfetched, a dance that can never be…at the same time they r both dazed and awakened by the shock of still capable to feel and fall for another human being.

  5. So I’m sat idly attempting to string together some thoughts on this film so I can review it and then I hit google and find this review. I love it! It’s so close to my own thoughts on it. Though I’m more fonder of it than you seem to be, I liked the writing too. But Tang Wei, wasn’t she absolutely lovely??

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