Critic Reviews



Based on 16 critic reviews provided by
Right Now, Wrong Then — which won the top prize at 2015’s Locarno Film Festival, and is heroically being released by brand-new distributor Grasshopper Film — is not only his finest work to date but also the very best film released in 2016 so far.
The Playlist
Hong’s two-part structure in Right Now, Wrong Then, instead of just being a cute formal trick, reveals a character’s troubled inner life in fiendishly clever ways.
Taken separately, these two medium-length works would be diverting but also rather minor Hong, with their typical dry humor and observations about life and love. But taken as a single, 120-minute work, the small differences in the dialogue and attitudes of parts one and two reveal nothing less than the humanity, inner life and subconscious decision-making processes of the characters, turning the whole into one of Hong’s strongest features to date.
Either hour alone would be a wry, incisive, quietly painful drama, set at the intersection of art and life, about foregrounded action and the weight of personal history. Together, the two parts make a radical fiction about the crucial role of imagination in lived experience. Hong’s narrative gamesmanship reveals agonized regret.
Slant Magazine
Spotting and processing the countless differences between the parts offers pleasures on various levels.
The Film Stage
In building a mystery, comedy, romance, occasional melodrama, and even a study of the artist’s foolishness that defies expectations well after we’re familiar with its brilliant conceit, Hong has yet again proven the vitality of his voice. At this point, it seems unlikely he’ll ever make a bad film.
There’s an element of playfulness here – Hong challenges us to identify the subtle shifts in emphasis and interplay between the two versions of the story. The narrative expands into an intricate game of spot the difference.
No director working today can carry out this kind of heavyweight emotional excavation with such feather-light flicks of his trowel. That’s Hong’s gift, as counterintuitive as it is unique: he makes molehills out of mountains.
The way Right Now, Wrong Then yields different results, moods, and beats as the result of minor shake-ups in the opening scenes is beyond fascinating, often charming, and at times amusingly uncomfortable.
Right Now, Wrong Then is a film of minute observations rather than grand revelations, less concerned with butterfly-effect consequentiality than the variable human foibles that can turn a bad day into a good one.

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