Daytime Drinking, 2008.
Directed by Noh Young-Seok.
Starring Song Sam-Dong and Yuk Sang-Yeop.
A heart-broken guy sets off on an alcohol-fuelled journey of discovery.
Daytime Drinking is a surreal Korean comedy following Jin, an average Joe who has just been dumped by his girlfriend. The film begins with Jin and his friends gathered around a table, with everyone in tipsy hysterics. Everyone except Jin, obviously. This prompts his friends to propose an impromptu trip to the mountains, during which they intend to get drunks as a skunk, make merry and forget about women.
Obviously things go awry for poor old Jin. After drinking into the night, he wakes up on an empty bus in the mountains. His friends remain unconscious back in Seoul. After confusedly stumbling around town he attempts to walk to his friend-of-a-friend’s guesthouse in the middle of nowhere. He gets there, tortured by cold, only to get a chilly reception from an owner he was told would cook for him and ensure his every comfort.
It’s here, at the less than welcoming guesthouse, that Jin stumbles upon his first female distraction of the trip. She is enigmatic, asking Jin for a cigarette, musing how they are both staying there alone, before disappearing bluntly into her room. Jin is left standing awkwardly. Many of the film’s more humorous moments are like this and are fuelled by Jin’s embarrassment. It does not feel as if we are laughing at Jin’s ineptitude however, merely people treating him cruelly, which is strangely unsettling. In any case there are few moments actually worthy of a laugh. When he goes to her room later with a bottle of wine, after summoning the courage from somewhere within his heartbroken self, a man answers the door.
This same girl continues to crop up as Jin lurches from one bad situation to another, digging himself deeper and deeper into trouble. The characters he meets tend to be more colourful and partially more interesting than Jin’s own self pitying, panicky state. Ultimately though the film seems to boil down to kicking a man while he’s down being funny and for the most part lacks the humanity to pull this off.
Liam Trim (follow me on Twitter)