Writer-director Jung Sung-il may prove to be contemporary Korean cinema’s answer to Jean-Luc Godard, an adventurous film critic turned auteur with an audacious vision. Witness Café Noir, his ambitious, subversively funny film debut that references literature, leftist politics, Bollywood, and Christianity while paying loving homage to the last decade of Korean cinema.

This formally rigorous, but sprawling and endlessly playful examination of unrequited love trails Young-soo, a heartsick music teacher, as he wanders the lonely streets of Seoul. In what its creator calls a “musical variation” on Johann Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “White Nights,” this diptych begins with Young-soo being unceremoniously dumped by his married lover on Christmas Eve and then struggling to win her back. In its second half, he finds himself drawn to a young woman in her own state of romantic purgatory. Young-soo’s digressive journey takes us through an uncanny cityscape that’s both “reel” and unreal—teasingly populated with characters and images from Old Boy, The Host, and films too numerous to mention.

3 min 7 sec


Posted On
June 14, 2010
Jung Sung-il

Jung Sung-il


June 20, 2010
Shin Ha-kyun
Kim Hye-na
Jung Yu-mi
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