Hotel by the River

Critics Consensus

Hotel by the River finds writer-director Hong Sang-soo revisiting familiar themes from fresh perspectives -- and telling a story that potently distills his unique creative strengths.



Total Count: 30


Audience Score

User Ratings: 49
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Movie Info

The film tells the story of an aging poet, Younghwan (Ki Joobong), who summons his two estranged sons (Kwon Haehyo and Yu Junsang) to a solitary hotel beside the Han River because he feels his death is near. While waiting for them to arrive, he meets two women (Kim Minhee and Song Seonmi) out walking in the new-fallen snow and is struck by their angelic beauty. But the women have come to the hotel to do some healing of their own. As Younghwan moves between the women and his bickering sons, he also moves between his two minds: one that walks on the street and the other that communes with the eternal. Shooting in gauzy black-and-white with a strikingly untethered hand-held camera, Korean master Hong Sangsoo interweaves the various dramas of his characters in a quiet, straightforward way. But small coincidences and privileged moments combine to create a powerful meditation on family and death, one of the most affecting films in Hong's oeuvre.


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Critic Reviews for Hotel by the River

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (8)

  • Hong's free style isn't showy; there's a stillness holding the film together at all times.

    Feb 15, 2019 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Shot in wintry black-and-white, Hotel by the River folds Hong's usual concerns into a structure that's more complex than usual.

    Feb 14, 2019 | Full Review…

    Mark Jenkins

    Top Critic
  • One of Hong's most unexpectedly poignant works, self-reflexive in a way that feels searching rather than rote.

    Feb 14, 2019 | Full Review…
  • But here, one also finds everything that is worth cherishing about this filmmaker's evolving, self-recycling, self-referential oeuvre.

    Feb 12, 2019 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
  • Hong builds the action into a framework of poetic premonitions that exude anticipatory danger.

    Oct 8, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Hong continues to find playful new ways of organizing his obsessions. He's got a natural genius for rearranging the furniture, and it makes a virtue of the fact that he's always working inside the same house.

    Oct 4, 2018 | Rating: B | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Hotel by the River

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