Claire’s Camera

Yanghye (Mi-hee Chang) invites her assistant, Manhee (Kim Mi-hee), to coffee before they attend a work function. Instead of a pleasant chat, Manhee is told that she is dishonest and fired on the spot, with no reason why. A vacationing Paris school teacher (Isabelle Huppert) is also there with the ever-present “Claire’s Camera.”

Laura's Review: B

At the Cannes Film Festival, film sales agent Manhee (Kim Minhee) is invited for coffee by Yanghye (Chang Mihee), her boss of five years, only to be told that while she is good-hearted, she is not honest and asked to quit with no other explanation. Manhee rattles Yanghye by requesting a photo of the two together before she takes her leave. In another city cafe, teacher Claire (Isabelle Huppert), there to support a friend's film, meets director Wansoo So (Jung Jinyoung). When she runs into him again later, he is lunching with Yanghye, and camera buff Claire informs them that 'You are a different person after I take your picture.' Flipping through her Polaroids, Yanghye is disturbed to find one of Manhee on the beach, another new acquaintance met through "Claire's Camera." Writer/director Hong Sang-soo ("Right Now, Wrong Then") continues his tradition of films about the love lives of hard drinking movie professionals, but this film differs in its light brightness and hint of magical realism. Claire is such a sunny creature, the color yellow follows her everywhere, and her pictures illuminate the mysterious connection among the people she meets. Sang-soo finds comedy in banal conversations, non-Native English speakers finding their way around a common language. Huppert's delivery has that artificiality that comes into one's inflections when speaking to a person in a language not their own, her halting emphases adding to the humor. After So invites himself to share Claire's table, their silence grows awkward, Claire seemingly intent on her phone, surprising us with her triumphant exclamation that she's found him on Google. The film delights us with small moments like these as we await the revelation of Manhee's mysterious firing. 'The only way to change things is to look at them again very slowly,' Claire tells Manhee, but it just may be Claire's openness to new people and experiences that exposes all. Grade:

Robin's Review: B-

On the surface, the story, by director-writer Hong Sang-soo, is a slight telling about a young women fired from her publicist assistant’s job who does not know why. The incident, though, weaves into a modest tapestry that explains how it all happened. Claire, who seems always at hand at an appropriate time, uses her hi-tech instant camera to “see things before they change.” Her philosophy is that a person becomes different when their picture is taken. She crosses paths, throughout the film, with Manhee, Yanghye and, the catalyst for everything, director So (Jung Jin-young). Claire’s omni-presence has a quieting effect on all with her snapshots. At a sparse 69 minutes runtime, “Claire’s Camera” seems more suited for TV than the movie theater. It is a quiet little story, without angst, and that is where its charm lay. You want things to turn out OK and, I think, they do.