Reviewed by Andrew Hamlin
Northwest Asian Weekly
At first, “Alone” looks like a case of voyeurism. Then it looks like a thriller, then a home invasion scenario, then supernatural. It flits through many plot aspects, but always retains its shadow-heavy aura of mystery. The main character runs through the darkened streets, sometimes buck naked, sometimes chasing folks, sometimes being chased by other folks — often, though not always, through a back-alley maze of staircases connecting the neighborhood, outside the apartment from which the man often flees.
Our man never knows what’s going on, and any severe trauma — what would ordinarily be death, or something “lighter” — resets him to a new awakening.
As this fascinating, recursive (with variations) narrative plays out, we gradually learn things about him. But we never know what to trust, and what might be illusion, or delusion.
Director Park Hong-min never loses control of his material, however, or his tone. He holds his strange story together with the shadows, with long, long takes that put the trust in actors to push through wild fluctuations in emotion. Each long take becomes a brick colored unto itself.
And the bricks build a staircase the viewer must climb with the mind.
June 6 — SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival, 4 p.m.
Andrew Hamlin can be reached at email@example.com.