Yourself and Yours
by Hope Madden
It’s taken four years, but Hong Sang-soo’s Yourself and Yours is finally screening internationally. The delightfully confusing love story uses inebriation and one well-placed mannequin to illustrate the giddy, identity-demolishing euphoria of love.
Young-soo (Kim Ju-hyuk) decides to believe his friends when they tell him his girlfriend Minjung (Lee Yoo-Young) goes out drinking—and who knows what else?—with other men.
But does she? I mean, it sure looks like she does, but maybe it isn’t her? Or maybe it is her, but there’s some kind of explanation, like mental illness? Or maybe it doesn’t matter, because the filmmaker is less interested in who is (or isn’t) doing what to whom than he is in how others react.
The film is a charming change of pace in at least a dozen ways. Its intentional ambiguity works in its favor because it keeps you from falling into the frustrating trap of seeing Yourself and Yours in the same terms as some kind of American doppelganger erotic thriller noir, which is certainly what the same story could have become.
Instead, the film delivers an entirely off-kilter sensation (as, some would say, does love). Lee’s enigmatic performance is captivating—at times tender, defensive and silly but always engaging. It’s hard to imagine the film working with anyone else in this role because, thanks to her unshowy but convincing portrayal, you are never absolutely certain what the hell is going on.
Supporting performances couldn’t be richer, whether the flatly disgusted female friend, the “sorry I started this whole thing” buddy, the nonchalant bartender or Minjung’s (or is it?) other smitten beaus. With limited screen time and limitless commitment to the concept, the ensemble adds to the confusion and the joy to be found throughout the film.
It may be Kim’s turn and the transformation of his character that elevate Yourself and Yours above quirky love story to truly solid, insightful art. His performance is quite beautiful, as is the film.
As, some would say, is love.