Yourself and Yours almost slipped through the cracks. Released in 2016, in the space between the long-awaited breakthrough that was the 2015 release of Right Now, Wrong Then and the news-breaking of the scandalous affair between that film’s star Kim Min-hee and her director Hong Sang-soo. While distributors struggled to keep pace with Hong’s prolific output, it’s perhaps understandable that this odd little movie took four years to make it to American screens, and only then as part of a pandemic-induced onslaught of Hong releases, with 2014’s Hill of Freedom (similarly rescued from limbo) and a re-release of the director’s 2008 film Woman on the Beach premiering within the same 30-day window. But rescued Yourself and Yours was, and it’s a good thing too, because it’s arguably the best film Hong has made since 2010’s Oki’s Movie. A man, Young-soo, fights with his girlfriend, Min-jung, because he thinks she drinks to much. She leaves him, and he spends the rest of the movie regretting his decision, seeing visions of her in daydreams and ultimately trying to win her back. At the same time, Min-jung flirts with a couple of men, both of whom insist they know her but which she denies, ultimately asserting that she has a twin sister. Eventually, Young-soo and Min-jung meet up again, and again she insists that she’s never met him before. But he doesn’t care: he loves her anyway. So here we have a simple story (boy and girl fight, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back) complicated by an ingenious twist (how many Min-jungs are there really?), which is the kind of thing Hong’s been doing throughout his whole career, utilizing dreams, film scripts and films, unexplainable temporal warps, and jumbled letters and anecdotes. Yourself and Yours is a kind of inversion of 2013’s Our Sunhi, where every man is in love with the same woman, except none of them are particularly interested in her, but rather their idealized version of her. Min-jung refuses to be abstracted in this way: she demands that the men in her life take her for what she is. Our Sunhi is a kind of screwball comedy, with a flustered Sunhi juggling the demands of oblivious men driven by their basest urges while trying to satisfying her own ends and ultimately leaving them all behind. But Yourself and Yours is pure romance, a woman going to bizarre and baffling lengths to get the man she wants. Call it Hong Sang-soo’s The Lady Eve.
Published as part of Top 25 Films of 2020 — 10-1.