July 28, 2010
Not since Chris Marker’s La Jetee (1962) have I seen still images used to so poignantly illustrate a truly Barthean understanding of photography (see Camera Lucida). Hong Sang-Soo’s Hahaha (2010) homages Marker and acknowledges Barthes and, in doing so, states from the outset that the content of the film will reflect a critical comprehension of the persistence of history as it pertains to the individual and the construct of their “memory”.
Mun-Kyeong and Jung-Sik are old friends who meet up after not having seen each other for a considerable period of time. Taking turns to tell “their” stories, they relay tales of women and events that have recently shaped and affected their respective lives; a rich tapestry of an image building, slowly revealing a greater overarching narrative.
Highly self-conscious, the film constantly makes reference to history and historical comprehension; the way in which an image is afforded with qualities according to its viewer’s contextual understanding; how “history is full of fabrications”; how mythology and folklore are born with words that “spread like wildfire”; the impossibility of ever really seeing things “as they truly are”, and so on.
But for all its worthy rhetoric, Hahaha isn’t a strictly cerebral film. In fact, it best suits the generic and entertainment label of “comedy” in the first instance. Well developed characters performed by some very clearly talented comedy actors in accordance with an incredibly witty script make this a genuinely funny, laugh out loud film. As enjoyable as it is intelligent, Hahaha is a sure festival highlight.
Hahaha screens as a part of this year’s MIFF and will be screening again on Saturday August 07 2010, 2.30pm in Greater Union Cinema 3.