At 66 minutes, Hong Sangsoo’s latest film is a masterclass in trimming fat from narrative bones. Introduction immediately pulls viewers into its lovable characters’ world, where their family- and relationship-based troubles may be trivial but cause no end of crossed wires and pre-emptive assumptions. The dreamlike, fluidly linear narrative has aspiring actor Youngho at its centre: his father has high hopes and industry connections for him, yet he quit his latest acting job after discomfort at on-set intimacy. Meanwhile, his girlfriend Juwon has moved to Berlin, taking up residence with a stunning – and therefore intimidating – artist. The couple visit on occasion and dream of each other when far away, carving out small spaces for their own dreams in the shadows of their parents.

Introduction thrives in a gently humorous space that has infinite sympathy for its characters without taking itself too seriously. The challenges Youngho, Juwon, and his family face are not life and death scenarios – there is the sense that all will be fine even if their artistic dreams do not work out – and this lack of stakes lets the innate comedy of their challenges come out without creating a mean-spirited atmosphere.

The small inconveniences amount to waiting room delays and cigarettes under a crowded umbrella. The bigger struggles come from familial expectation and the tiniest miscommunications, whose triteness emphasise the empathy and humanity at play. The script never claims universality – many watching may not relate to Youngho’s passionate explanation to his father that he cannot act without the genuine emotion, but the delivery of this feeling rings true.

Introduction knows it does not need to be grander, larger, or longer than it needs to – a rarity in cinema. While not the most memorable tale, it enjoys its characters’ most minute musings with a wink, smile, and warm hug.



CAST: Shin Seokho, Park Miso, Kim Youngho, Ki Joobong, Seo Younghwa, Kim Minhee, Cho Yunhee, Ye Jiwon, Ha Seongguk

DIRECTOR: Hong Sangsoo

WRITER: Hong Sangsoo

SYNOPSIS: An aspiring actor tries to carve out his future around his girlfriend, his father, and industry expectations.