<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Hong Sang-soo. Starring Isabelle Huppert, Kim Min-hee, Chang Mi-hee, Jung Jin-young
Running time: 69 minutes
Sort of like an improv skit in college, Claire’s Camera is quirky, but unimaginative.
Shot on the fly at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, Claire’s Camera looks like it’s been put together in a day and shot over a couple of days. There’s no real script; it’s like the actors have been given the set up of the scene and then told to just improvise. The starting point is usually Claire’s (Isabelle Huppert) curiosity about people and her interest in taking an instant Polaroid photo of them. She befriends Manhee (Kim Min-hee) and starts having some very awkward conversation with her.
Claire then meets Manhee’s film production bosses (Chang Mi-hee and Jung Jin-young) who are surprised that Manhee is in town. We learn that she was fired for basically sleeping with the boss.
Claire’s Camera is more of an experiment to see how these diverse characters from around the world would meet in a new setting and how they’d interact to form friendships. Unfortunately, the improvisational nature of many of the scenes leads to stilted dialogue, repetition of lines, lots of statements of gratitude like ‘thank you’ and ‘welcome’ and no real connection. Huppert seems to struggle the most with coming up with something to talk about. Kim Min-hee is delightful though.
Thankfully it’s only about an hour long and is eccentric enough to sit through, but Claire’s Camera is the sort of film experiment you’d expect from film students and not an accomplished director.