Daytime Drinking (Widescreen) product details page

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Daytime Drinking (Widescreen)

Song Sam-Dong

Director: Noh Young-seok

rated: TV-MA

released: January 26, 2010

Rating: Not rated: write a review
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Daytime Drinking is being promoted in America as a humorous examination of the cultural "rules" of drinking in Korea, and though the film succeeds on many levels, it fails to genuinely achieve this ambition. Certainly such rules exist, and they overlap in such a way as to ensure the inebriation of everyone involved in a drinking outing. But while the strict rules of Korean hospitality play a limited role in the unfortunate exploits of the protagonist, Hyuk-jin (Song Sam-dong), the series of awkward situations and unusual encounters which mark his entirely entertaining debacle are universally recognizable, and more attributable to general habits of human social behavior than to any locally specific customs. Thus, the film's failure to fulfill the promise of its publicity actually widens its appeal, and is better read as a strength than as a shortcoming.Hyuk-jin, who lives in Seoul, finds himself alone in the relatively rural province of Gangwon after his friends fail to live up to a drunken pledge to travel there together. During the next several days, he participates in a series of alcohol-fueled episodes, which, taken separately, would lend themselves nicely to the sort of exaggeration and self-deprecation that later makes for an entertaining adventure to relate to one's friends. However, rather than cut his losses and return home with a funny story for his troubles, Hyuk-jin continues to press his luck, hoping for a more memorable and transcendent experience, until his comedy very nearly becomes a tragedy. While the individual rules of drinking play a peripheral role in his troubles, more problematic is his overall gullibility and social ineptitude, which cause him to behave subserviently with an odd set of characters, including a woman on a bus who is curiously passionate about techno music and Japanese haiku, and a truck driver who rescues him from one dire situation only to enact his own disturbing confrontation. Writer/director Noh Young-seok and his cast provide these secondary characters with a benign neglect for social boundaries which makes them much more onerous and authentic than strangers who are openly antagonistic.The film displays its low budget in every frame, and though it is possible to justify the ragged look as an appropriate aesthetic for depicting such ordinary characters and events, at times the lack of focus and composition is distracting. But the story never falters, continually connecting with the audience as a set of recognizable incidents that are not merely possible, but nearly inevitable given the circumstances. Though Daytime Drinking has a universal appeal, it may be read more specifically as a revision of the "soju genre" films of Hong Sang-soo, which typically feature scenes where characters get drunk and belligerently reveal their true feelings for one another, betraying their carefully composed social guises. Noh Young-seok's engaging debut represents a much lighter take on the pleasures and perils of drinking, and the often illusory line in between. Phillip Maher, All Movie Guide

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