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"Proof that a good script and simpatico direction and performances can overcome budgetary restrictions” – Derek Elley, VARIETY
Director: Noh Young-seok
Screenplay: Noh Young-seok
Cast: Song Sam-dong, Yuk Sang-yeop, Kim Kang-hee
Producers: Noh Young-seok
Distributor: Evokative Films
There are many varieties of soju, the traditional Korean liquor with a taste not unlike that of vodka, but the most popular is derived from sweet potatoes and boasts a 20 per cent alcohol content. In South Korea, they drink a lot of it—almost three billion bottles in 2004. In DAYTIME DRINKING, they drink oceans of the stuff. The film opens on a shared dinner at which four friends are busily emptying their little green bottles of soju. Hyuk-jin, the most reserved of the bunch, is nursing a broken heart and shows little enthusiasm for partying. To set him straight, the others concoct a plan to travel to Jeongseong, where the spectacular mountains, fresh air and of course a few bottles of the good stuff should do the trick. Initially unsure, Hyuk-jin caves in and agrees to meet the others there the next day. Upon arrival, though, he’s the only one there. He dials up his pals only to find them all still bedridden, recovering from a massive binge and in no shape to make their appointment. The frustrated Hyuk-jin’s ready to head back to Seoul but Ki-sang sweet-talks him into reconsidering and capitalizing on the gorgeous winter landscape, suggesting he take a room, where Ki-sang will join him in a day or two. Thus begins Hyuk-jin’s strange odyssey as he lets himself get dragged from place to place by the assorted oddballs he encounters during his marathon drunk.
With its meandering protagonist surrounded by a cornucopia of kooky characters—a pretty young woman who can soak up drinks like a sponge, an irascible lover of poetry and uncalled-for insults, an innkeeper whose home-brewed liquor purportedly cures any and all ills—DAYTIME DRINKING recalls the signature films of Jim Jarmusch. Noh Young-seok’s debut feature film is shot through with sharp dry humour and hints of the absurd, and hinges on the fascinating interactions of its characters. The dialogue, while spare, is sharp, crafty and at times surreal. Noh handled pretty much every task in fashioning this little low-budget gem, which cost a mere $10,000 to make. Beyond scripting and directing, Noh took care of producing the film, the camerawork, sound, editing, lighting and score. Given the hype DAYTIME DRINKING has elicited on the festival circuit, it’s obvious that he tackled each task like a master.