It’s utterly amazing how much action one man can get and still not have any idea about the true nature of women. In “Woman is the Future of Man,” South Korean director Hong Sang-soo paints a vivid, if at times stoic, picture of two men who both pine to be with their college sweetheart.
Mun-ho appears to be a happily married professor of art at the local college who is reunited with his old friend Hyeon-gon, an aspiring filmmaker. The two proceed to inebriate themselves and wax nostalgic about their friend Seon-hwa, whom Hyeon-gon had steadily dated during his college years, but who now has become lost to the business of life. The two men go on a journey of love, attempting to reconnect with this woman of the past, and encounter several different ladies along the way. The movie deals more with the series of conversations that the characters choose to engage in; thus, parts of the movie seem to drag. However, Hang Sang-soo propels the movie forwards with genuinely interesting commentary on the state of male and female relationships.
While the film is being billed in various publications as the story of two men searching for their lost love, it’s primarily a story of Mun-ho and his vast misunderstanding of the process and purpose of women. After making love to a woman that is not his wife (which is a running theme throughout “Woman is the Future of Man”), Mun-ho marvels at his partner’s silky legs, remarking that, “I didn’t know that women shaved their legs.” Mun-ho continues to exhibit his lack of knowledge about the opposite sex when he and Hyeon-gon finally spend the night at Seon-hwa’s house. Here Mun-ho says, with little or no prompting, “Will you suck me off?” to Seon-hwa, while his friend drunkenly sleeps in the other room, and she agrees in a manner that guarantees discomfort for the viewer.
Is “Woman” misogynistic? Possibly. But what it deals with revolves more around the vast confusion and walking id tendencies that men exhibit when dealing with women. Still, the film does a terrific job of portraying the loneliness that comes with meaningless relationships – even if it does take some time to get there.