Posted in Fantasia 2011, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews

Fantasia 2011: Review of Bleak Night

Bleak Night (2011)
Director: Yoon Sung-hyun, Screenplay: Yoon Sung-hyun
Cast: Lee Je-hoon, Seo Jun-young, Park Jun-min

I could’ve written this review much earlier but having watched this film along with 3 others on the same weekend, this one fell by the wayside.  The reason was that I didn’t really like it and didn’t have much to say about it.

The film is about three teenage boys, one oddly nicknamed “Becky”, the leader Ki-Tae and Dong-Yoon who initially are friends in high school.  They go out with girls to chinatown, have late night talks and play catch on the railway tracks.  Eventually due to miscommunication and jealousy the three friends end up parting ways with Ki-Tae committing suicide.  Ki-Tae’s father visits the school and talks with his son’s friends seeking closure.

There is a very deliberate pace to the film that gives the audience time to ponder which is good.  However, the film jumps back from the present to the past without notice and it can take minutes into the scene before you realize what time frame you’re in.  This makes keeping track of events all the more difficult.  It didn’t help that for the first 20 minutes I kept confusing “Becky” with Ki-Tae as I found they looked a bit similar.

The acting is very strong and the director’s choice to often linger with close up shots of their faces makes you feel closer to the characters.  As far as understanding the characters through these moments, I found that Ki-Tae baffled me. He just seemed like a jerk whose friends got fed up of him.  I couldn’t understand why he treated his so-called best friends so poorly.  There are no concrete answers given for his suicide which is fine but I wish I understood his character more.  Other reviews talk about how this film is an analysis of youth, suicide and/or the educational system but I really don’t see where any of this comes from within the film itself.  I wouldn’t say this was a bad film and perhaps multiple viewings are warranted in order to see this “depth” that I was incapable of grasping with only one viewing.

There was also a short titled “Ghost” which played before this which made creepy use of the face of KFC’s colonel.  That alone made the short worth watching.

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Author:

Longtime fan of East Asian films. Former "movie reporter" on the music radio show / podcast "Beats From The East" broadcasted on Concordia University's CJLO 1690AM radio station in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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