In "Meeting: Coffee Shop Chat" seven thirty-something men talk and act like men while wearing suits and drinking coffee at a café. That really is the entire movie. From the beginning some questions are begged. Why are they wearing suits, when half of them have jobs that don't even require suits? Also, why are they drinking coffee when these are clearly guys who usually talk about life over rowdy beers? Worry not- by the end, a very good explanation is given for these questions.
Until then, "Meeting: Coffee Shop Chat" is just eavesdropping on their conversation. This is not necessarily a pleasant experience. Frequent side shots to other café patrons shows us that these seven guys are very much annoying the other customers or even, at certain intervals, random people outside the café. Several cast members are credited as scriptwriters for "Meeting: Coffee Shop Chat" which leads me to believe that most of the script was actually improvised. Those random bewildered people on the bus really are just random bewildered people on the bus, and these men are out of control.
But are they really? That's the main question I struggled with, because there's very much a vibe going on here about how the main reason these guys are all friends is because they need someplace to vent about women. Don't get them wrong, they love women, they love their wives, it's just...talking to them is hard. They're always so highly guarded. But then, that's what makes it so satisfying to approach a woman. There's excitement, and adventure, and the hope of success and happiness.
We also see how the shared experience of having to deal with women contributes to the strong sense of camaraderie and male bonding that these seven guys share. Which again, is not always a good thing. The more confident and happy these guys feel, the more boisterous they get. There's some very charming irony here about how we would think these guys are drunk, except that they've been sitting there drinking coffee this entire time. So obviously, they can't be.
As oddly counterintuitive as this will likely sound, the whole process actually tames them. Observe how as the various conversation topics come to a close, and the men grow bolder, they've still got wingmen nearby to make sure everyone stays calm. While "Meeting: Coffee Shop Chat" initially appears to confirm stereotypes about how men are all obnoxious boors, really, these guys are just being themselves. Good on them for being able to unwind like that.
"Meeting: Coffee Shop Chat" is good less because of its content and more because of the kinds of memories it drags up. What friends did you have, the ones where once the mood is good, you can just keep on talking and talking all long about whatever and who cares who gets offended as long as everyone stays cool? While the ending is a bleak reminder that such life experiences are, by nature, fleeting, we are still better happier people for having had them.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Film Review] "Meeting: Coffee Shop Chat""
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