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Daytime Drinking follows young, lonely Hyeok-jin (Song Sam-dong) as he drinks himself from one luckless situation to the next. In sparsely populated, drawn-out scenes, Hyeok-jin tries to find his way out of a section of South Korea’s literal and (of course) figurative boondocks, but—and forgive the spoiler—there is no escape for Hyeok-jin or his fellow alcoholics. Director Noh Young-seok eschews the typical outcome of a “lonely traveler” film (settling down or getting the hell out of Dodge) in favor of a bleak, cyclical story about travelers who are destined to stay lost in the maze of their sins. Hyeok-jin’s fellow wanderers share his quiet desperation, which Young-seok doesn’t explore or develop into anything at the individual character level (the one exception is the general laborer whose revelatory scenes are hilarious). Young-seok plays with the viewer’s expectations, feeding our desire for, you know, something to happen and manages to bring a few ideas full circle by the very end. But somewhere around the 90-minute mark, with no climactic rise in sight, the film suddenly feels like an exercise in staying seated (thanks in part to its terrible pacing). It’s enough to make you want a drink.
Friday, April 24, at 6:30 p.m. Also at 6:15 p.m. on Saturday, April 25. Both showings at Landmark’s E Street Cinema.