A helming debut of quiet delicacy, “Before the Summer Passes Away” stirs at the flickering embers of a rekindled affair between two very different people. A resonant calling card from Korean Academy of Film Art prof Sung Ji-hae, the pic reps a strong crop of recent indie Korean titles, and will pass time at fests and specialized situations.
While strolling in Seoul with adoring new friend Hyun-jae (Kwon Min), 29-year-old student So-yeon (Kim Bo-kyeong), on a break from her studies in Paris, takes a call from ex-lover Min-hwan (Lee Hyeon-woo), a divorced diplomat. Before she knows it, she’s back in the groove of their old affair in Busan, which is to say she more or less surrenders her life to his needs. Though Min-hwan is distant and controlling, it’s clear he cares for her as much as his temperament and station allow. Meanwhile, the control that’s been taken from her is expended on Hyun-jae, who grows increasingly agitated at her unpredictability and lies. Shrewd writing and acting preserves auds’ respect for So-yeon, with a climactic airport showdown that’s a fine balancing act of conflicting emotions. Tech credits are discreetly capable.