‘The Novelist’s Film’ Ending, Explained: How Does Jun-hee Break Out Of Her Creative Block?

There’s a certain might in the South Korean auteur who relentlessly repurposes not only the thematic expeditions but also the stoic endeavors that transform into waves of emotions. Singling out one of Hong Sang-soo’s films relies largely on which emotion it evokes and barely on how it evokes the same. In his recent films, there is an undeniable presence of an increasingly illustrative aspect that looks closely into the chords that his own personalized medium strikes. In his films, the narrative is nothing more than the dedicated vehicle for the journey of its themes. “The Novelist’s Film” is no different if we are to reduce it down to its anecdotal elements and shrink its horizon to look for similarities with its predecessors. But if you are to abide by the meta-aspects of Hong Sang-soo’s 2022 film and look beneath the surface of the story, you are promised a kaleidoscopic array of gratifying emotions.

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Spoilers Ahead


‘The Novelist’s Film’ Plot Synopsis: What Happens In the Film?

Going through writer’s block has unsettled the celebrated author Kim Jun-hee. The unpredictability that is aroused by the sunset of a chapter of her life has made Jun-hee free in a way. She travels far from the congested life of Seoul to surprise a friend by visiting her in her little bookstore. The complexities of running a small business reach Jun-hee’s ears when she overhears her friend and a young employee fighting inside the store. As the two friends sit and talk about the paths their lives have taken, we learn that Jun-hee hasn’t been able to write anything in a while and that her friend has moved away from her old life with the hope of never being found. She is content with running a little bookstore in the provincial town and hosting readings for the people who find comfort amongst kindred spirits. The nervous 30-something woman that works at the bookstore left her career as a stage actress and now immerses herself in the fascinating world of sign language. She is ecstatic to be able to teach Jun-hee a verse in sign language. Jun-hee’s friend has been able to elevate her reading experience by effectively breaking out of the pressure that comes with reading what she is supposed to, and now she unapologetically reads what she truly wants to.

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When they drop her off at the local tower that has recently become famous, Jun-hee runs into Director Park and his wife. The air of awkwardness that pervades their conversation is rooted in an unpleasant past experience. Director Park had once rejected a cinematic adaptation of one of Jun-hee’s books and had chosen a more lucrative deal instead. But the days of the director prioritizing money are gone. Now that he is old, he only makes films that are, according to his wife, “more clear.” The soothing notes of spring in the air make Jun-hee want to take a walk in the local park. There, another chance meeting places them in the path of Kil soo. Director Park recognizes the famous actress right away and is eager to make her acquaintance. He doesn’t react kindly to Kil soo’s decision to take a break from acting and proceeds to give her an offensive and unwarranted lecture about how she is wasting her talent. Kil soo may be too sweet of a person to speak up against the obnoxious remarks made by Director Park, but Jun-hee isn’t one to shy away from giving him a piece of her mind.


How Does Kil Soo Spark Up New Hope In Jun-hee?

Meeting an actress who she genuinely admires provides a safe space for Jun-hee’s long-repressed dream to come alive again. She also meets Kil soo’s husband’s nephew, Gyeongwoo, who happens to be a film student. Jun-hee has always wished to make a short film with an actress she actually likes. Meeting Kil soo and Gyeongwoo inspires her instantly to come up with an idea for a film. She wants Kil soo and her potter husband to star in a film that will capture the most natural essence of their conversations. Gyeongwoo is asked to be the eyes behind the camera. While they are both intrigued by what they hear, Kil soo still needs to find out if her husband will agree to it. On their way back, Kil soo and Jun-hee share a meal and some progressively personal specifics of their lives. When asked why she is unable to write, Jun-hee elaborates on the lack of urge she feels to exaggerate the emotions that she has never felt. Building up excessively on something minuscule has always been Jun-hee’s method of writing. Lately, she has been feeling the absence of the drive that once made her gain fame with her words. Kil soo reciprocates Jun-hee’s sincerity with a mention of her struggles with alcoholism. In Kil soo, Jun-hee sees a woman bereft of egotism and vanity. Her endearing free spirit makes Kil soo step out of the restaurant to talk to a little kid who has been watching her with eyes full of adoration. That is what the soul of Jun-hee’s film is supposed to be. That very simplicity and warm spontaneity are what the novelist wants to communicate with her film.

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‘The Novelist’s Film’ Ending Explained – How Does Jun-hee Break Out Of Her Creative Block?

The burden of extravagance being chipped away with every chance meeting makes Jun-hee look forward to the authentic creativity that is to come. Even though Kil soo hasn’t really given a definitive affirmation, Jun-hee believes that she will come around. Kil soo receives a phone call and a request to visit an event at a local store. Not wanting to part with her yet, she asks Jun-hee to come along. Jun-hee doesn’t necessarily want the rare pleasantness of the day to come to an end either, and she is happy to join Kil soo. When they arrive at the spot, Jun-hee is a little taken aback to see that they are at her friend’s bookstore. With a little nudge from Kil soo, she agrees to go in. The surprise encounter is only heightened when she meets the poet who used to be her drinking buddy. The group drinks and talks endlessly and finds refuge in the safety of like-mindedness. Forgetting that she is supposed to avoid drinking, Kil soo gives into her urge and gets excessively inebriated. The drunk actress is brimming with joy at the possibility of starring in Jun-hee’s film. When asked what the story of the film will be, Jun-hee makes it a point to state how insignificant a story is in her method. Hong Sang-soo’s own style of simplicity and unburdened authenticity finds a groundbreaking expression through Jun-hee’s idea of filmmaking. Following the footsteps of the director himself, Jun-hee’s creative energy recognizes the masterpiece that can emerge out of something strikingly effortless.

Sangsoo has been a connoisseur of self-reflection and effervescent expressions of life and art through the most seemingly mundane meetings and exchanges. If I am to point out my favorite amongst his several, almost yearly whims of booze-soaked conversations, “Right Now, Wrong Then” may just be the most blatantly and confidently successful minimalistic approach taken by the prolific director to bring out jarring pathos and hope from the most illusive humility of simple elements. In “The Novelist’s Film,” however random the smallest impacts of Jun-hee’s chance meetings and conversations seem, the director has candidly placed her in those very situations to justify his loyalty to his own style. Sangsoo has never let himself be charmed by the commercial seductions of the industry. In his long career, he has remained steadfast in his stance of relying on simplicity with increasingly small budgets and crews. Like Jun-hee’s friend’s acceptance of her own taste in books, Hong Sangsoo has embraced the idiosyncrasies of his art. And unlike the unpleasant Director Park’s desperation for using one’s talent so as not to waste life itself, Hong Sangsoo doesn’t believe in the rampant promotion of a person’s gifts at the expense of their emotional well-being. Coming to terms with the newfound understanding of what it means to make art is how Jun-hee finds new hope for her creative endeavors. The writer who once grasped the profligacy of emotions as her method is now confident enough to not just reject it but stand firmly against it when her poet friend raises the argument of the necessity of something “charismatic” to draw people in. Jun-hee wants to place Kil soo and her husband in a familiar disagreement. It may as well be an instance of her husband forgetting her birthday and going about his day as though nothing is wrong. Drunk Kil soo is elated at the mention of this idea, as this is something she has actually experienced. Once again, the director finds a way to shrewdly mention his style of using the familiarity of common situations to bring forth a grander emotion. In the end, we see that Jun-hee has made the film she has always dreamt of making. While Kil soo watches the film at the screening, which Gyeongwoo has arranged through his contact with the manager, an anxious Jun-hee smokes away on the roof. We only get to see snippets of Jun-hee’s film through the transition from black and white to the liveliness of color.

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Lopamudra Mukherjee
Lopamudra Mukherjeehttps://muckrack.com/lopamudra-mukherjee
Lopamudra nerds out about baking whenever she’s not busy looking for new additions to the horror genre. Nothing makes her happier than finding a long-running show with characters that embrace her as their own. Writing has become the perfect mode of communicating all that she feels for the loving world of motion pictures.

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