Hahaha (2010)
Hong Sang-soo


HahahaHong Sang-soo’s easy-to-type Hahaha (2010) is the kind of picture that critics comfortably dismiss as light and frivolous. That’s because Hahaha is light and frivolous. And consciously so. The film presents two young friends who accidentally meet and decide to hang out in a pub nearby. During their bout, they take turns to recite their experiences during last summer in a sea-side town. As the two mildly amusing stories unfold, we realize that they are not all exclusive as both tellers believe. We see characters and events that span the two stories, time-line of one story flowing into the other and the characters’ paths intersecting in bizarre and not-so-bizarre ways. Perhaps these two men are drunk enough (or dumb enough) to not realize that their stories share a single universe. Or it may be that one of them is only playing along and making his story up. Or maybe both of them are playing a game of Exquisite Corpse. It is also equally possible that both of them are sincere and it is Hong who is pulling their legs by actually making a film out of their stories wherein he fuses and confuses separate characters. The two stories are contaminated by regularly occurring zoom shots that lend the film the look of a bad sitcom or, more accurately, an amateur video made on the sets of Hahaha which reveal the artifice of it all. Existentialist in approach, Hong’s film argues, as does Allen’s Melinda and Melinda (2004), that one’s life is how one interprets it to be and that value of things resides only in one’s perception of those things. Consequently, like Allen’s film, one of the stories is high on marital drama and the other, on romantic comedy. (Actually, the former ends up being hysterical while the latter is pretty bland). But the film is also a testament to the power of stories in embodying our desires and overcoming our fears and a lighthearted appeal for the existence of personal, eccentric histories – personal and national – as opposed to the unquestionable, unfruitful facts handed down by text books.