Berlinale Blog 2018 #2: Grass – Forum

     |    Sunday, der 18. February 2018

Heute blickt Andrew Horn, Filmkritiker und Filmemacher (WE ARE TWISTED FUCKING SISTER!, THE NOMI SONG, EAST SIDE STORY, DOOMED LOVE THE BIG BLUE) im realeyz Berlinale Blog auf einen weiteren Film aus dem Forum, diesmal Hong Sangsoo’s GRASS, der heute im Cubix läuft. Hier seine Kritik:

I’ve always thought that certain banal locations where people tend to gather are potentially a hotbed for all sorts of little dramas and collisions of personalities. It could be a laundromat, a barber shop, a bar, or, in the case of Hong Sangsoo’s movie, GRASS, a coffee shop.

The comings and goings of various characters in such places could certainly suggest what the movie’s press book describes as “a highly ordered architecture under a seemingly random surface”. The “random surface” comes from observation of the coffee shop setting (with occasional side trips to a restaurant or the street outside) where we overhear segments of a series of dialogues with people meeting each other over a drink. Each couple seems to be having a banal and friendly conversation, only to have it evolve into varying degrees of awkward confrontation, at which point the movie shifts the focus to someone else.

The “highly ordered architecture” part starts to come into play in the ways we are led from one couple to another, and one story to another. In the beginning we are led to believe that the connecting thread is a girl sitting by the window who is writing on her computer. It’s not clear if she is recording what’s going on at this or that nearby table, or if she is in fact writing the story that we are seeing play out. The answer to that question may or may not be subverted by the fact that she eventually gets drawn in to a couple of the stories herself.

Having reached this point in the description, I find myself reluctant to get into any further detail because the main thing that intrigued me about this film was the process of how the various characters and the structure of their relationships unfold, either in series or in parallel or in some combination of the two. While I felt reminded of movies like LANTANA or LA CRASH with their cleverly interwoven stories and surprising disclosures of identity, at the same time it might be misleading to take that similarity too seriously as there are no forehead slapping revelations here. As much as things do come together, they do so in a more simple and subtle way, which brings it’s own sense of low-key satisfaction. There’s no big dramatic arc, yet one can say that everybody – both we, the audience, and the characters – comes away with a different feeling about the whole situation than we all had going in. And it all happens over a cup of coffee and a little schnaps.

Andrew Horn