Exploring the transient nature of perfect timing, director Hong Sangsoo splits his love story into two divergent counterparts, juxtaposing each with the underlying concept of fate, possibility and consequence. Winner of the Golden Leopard, Best Actor and Locarno 15 awards, Right Now, Wrong Then delivers two differing variations of a romantically charged encounter laced with the unpolished yet giddy nature of first dates.
The first half of the movie, cleverly titled Right Then, Wrong Now, portrays a famous film director (Jae-yeong Jeong) buying time in chilly Suwon where he meets a beautiful painter (Min-hee Kim). He spends the day entranced by her, occupied by the urge to impress her. The enjoyment of sharing philosophies and aspirations is evident but gradually, troubling proponents are uncovered and fabricated tales are unveiled. What begins with promise ends unclear.
The film’s second half, Right Now, Wrong Then, reveals a nearly identical companion narrative with slight alterations in behaviour and attitude. Through the comparison of these two interpretations, it is called to question what we are willing to disregard for our personal desires. The film delves into the contrast of self control vs. impulse, embellishment vs. honesty and the consequences that are attached to our choices, however miniscule. Despite a similar beginning, their dynamic veers tremendously, expressing how shifts in our behaviour and those infinitesimal, overlooked details, cause significant chain reactions in our lives.
Sangsoo’s preference for still shots accented with a sudden zoom comes to play once again, along with his long, uncut scenes, that bring surprising acuity and natural simplicity to the film. This style is showcased especially during their flirtatious yet fickle exchanges, often accompanied with many drinks of soju. The two leads, Jeong and Kim, carry out a charismatic performance loaded with sentiment and bursts of comedic flair. Sangsoo skillfully manages to unspool self-reflective topics through the two, symbiotic segments of this film.
Right Now, Wrong Then broadens the familiar question, “What if?” The divide between cause and effect is analyzed, while the convenience of deceit, the limits of impulse and the innocence of platonic relationships are showcased. Similarly to the acclaimed television series, The Affair, we are left with two conflicting depictions, both eerily possible. Which version of Sangoo’s story do you trust? Enjoy this remarkable romance saga where two halves of the movie work in accordance, illustrating the charm of first encounters and the humorous roller coaster of star-crossed timing.