The Novelists Film Trailer: Hong Sangsoos 27th Movie Holds a Mirror to His Process

Hong Sangsoo’s level of productivity probably hasn’t been matched on the screen since the run of Rainer Werner Fassbinder. “The Novelist’s Film,” his latest gently ambling and self-reflexive drama about the craft of filmmaking, is the South Korean director’s 27th movie. It’s also his second this year alongside “Walk Up.” (That’s hardly his most impressive year; in 2017, he released three movies.) Exclusively on IndieWire, watch the trailer for “The Novelist’s Film” below. Cinema Guild opens it at Lincoln Center on October 28 before bringing it to select theaters beginning November 4.

Per the official synopsis, Junhee (Lee Hyeyoung, last seen in Hong’s “In Front of Your Face” from 2017) is a novelist who has grown disenchanted with her own writing. On a trip to see an old friend, she runs into a film director who was set to adapt one of her novels before the project fell through. One chance encounter leads to another, and soon she finds herself having lunch with Kilsoo (Kim Minhee, also the star of Park Chan-wook’s “The Handmaiden”), a well-known actress also questioning her role as an artist.

It’s then that Junhee has an epiphany: She will make a new film starring Kilsoo. It won’t be like other films. It will be the novelist’s film. For his 27th feature, Hong holds a mirror up to his own artistic process and asks what exactly it is we’re looking for from a work of art. As his characters discuss their lives and work and the ways they intertwine, Hong sets down a sort of manifesto for his own inimitable oeuvre before exploding it (or perhaps fully realizing it) in a moving final flourish.

Per Variety’s review: “All Hong films are tangrams to an extent, arriving at slightly different forms from the same foundational pieces. ‘The Novelist’s Film’ is no exception, repurposing multiple narrative, thematic and stylistic elements from its predecessors, but culminating in a mood of quizzical artistic self-interrogation that still feels spry and distinct — with at least a trick or two added to the director’s rumpled, well-worn bag.”

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