It’s a good thing that the title of Hong Sang-soo’s scabrous look at men behaving badly suggests that the female of our species will offer salvation; judging from the way the director dissects immature masculinity so unsparingly, you’d think that those possessing Y chromosomes have no future whatsoever. The two male characters—a college professor (Yu) and a filmmaker (Kim) recently back from a sojourn in the U.S.—deal with career uncertainties and stifling marriages by drinking beer, backbiting each other and pathetically pining for their long-gone youth: Specifically, the two old friends are obsessed with a lost love (Seong) whom both men slept with way back when. After the duo finds out that she runs a bar in a nearby town, they decide to visit her for old times’ sake. Bad decision.
Like several of the Korean director’s previous films, this bitter comedy of the sexes has a gabby European sensibility in its fractured storytelling and fermented lust, which brings to mind Godard and Truffaut’s love triangles (an alternate title might have been Jules and Jerks). But whereas Hong’s past tales of thwarted romances and petty jealousies turned their ironies into subtle epiphanies, his exploration of insensitive guys consumed by infantile sexuality feels like a baby step backward. It’s a minor work by a major filmmaker; best to consider it more of an introduction to his headier, harder-to-find gems. (Opens Fri; Cinema Village.)—David Fear