In Another Country

The comedy of misunderstanding is afoot in Hong Sang-soo’s misty beachfront divertissement, an improbably endearing three-way Isabelle Huppert vehicle. Framed as notes toward a film (scribbled on a mini legal pad and then twice revised), the actual film gamely riffs on its variable notion of Huppert as a Frenchwoman visiting Korea for a seaside stopover and becoming gently embroiled within the amusements of cultural and sexual tension. Being Huppert, she’s up for it; even in the possibly improvised — and possibly misfired — moments, and even two layers deep into non-native language, she can’t seem to strike a false note. With desperate defaults to broken-English pleasantries and without resolution, each of Hong’s leisurely vignettes involves encounters with a friendly neighbor (Jung Yumi), a film director (Kwon Hyehyo) and his pregnant wife (Moon Sori), and a flirty lifeguard (Yu Junsang). Not quite letting us get a grip on the characters or their situations actually works to the film’s advantage, by inviting inquisitiveness, and Hong’s recurrent motifs also affirm the pure aesthetic pleasures of pattern recognition. All three of these Hupperts go for a walk in search of a lighthouse, and intermittent illumination is available, if only through an impish game of minor neurotic upheavals.