Haeundae-gu, Busan, Republic of Korea,
Juhee from 5 to 7
Juhee, a veteran drama professor, faces a devastating reality: she has a tumor in her chest that could be cancerous. She feels tired and hopeless, ready to give up on her dreams of acting and teaching. She decides to quit her job and sort out her affairs, but her students are not ready to let her go. They come to her office, seeking her advice and comfort for their own artistic struggles. Meanwhile, Hojin, a passionate theater director, is preparing for his new play's premiere. He is unsure about a crucial scene that explores the challenges of a middle-aged couple. He wonders if he is revealing too much of his own personal troubles through his work. His younger colleagues sense something is wrong and speculate about his motives.
Director Jang Kun-jae, recognized for the way he is able to capture the mundanity of everyday life in A Midsummer's Fantasia and Vestige, returns with his fifth feature film, which was first presented last year at the Busan International Film Festival (his latest, Because I Hate Korea, opened the latest edition of the festival). Jang's latest creation draws inspiration from a classic of the French New Wave, Agnès Varda's Cleo from 5 to 7. Echoing the premise, the film encapsulates two pivotal hours in the life of a female artist after a life-altering diagnosis. What began as a project for a short film evolved into a feature interweaving her struggle with another plotline set against the backdrop of a play premiere and occurring concurrently. Kim Joo-ryoung, celebrated for her role in the Netflix sensation "Squid Game," reunites with Jang for the third time to infusing depth and emotion into a character who navigates the threads of life's uncertainties and the enigmatic allure of artistic creation.