15:19 - 25th June 2014, by Calum Waddell

Bleak Night

This debut offering from filmmaker-to-watch Yoon Sung-Hyun was released in its home country back in 2010 and is only now arriving on UK soil courtesy of Third Window Films. The movie itself deals with a father's search for the truth and events that led up to, and climaxed in, his son's suicide. If this sounds like a jolly old fun night in, then be aware that Sung-Hyun's visual approach only amplifies the utter discontent and despair that his story presents. Purposely dingy and washed out colours document barren areas of Seoul - including a disused railway and housing tenements that look about as appealing as those on the outskirts of one time British industrial cities such as Glasgow or Manchester. Certainly, Sung-Hyun doesn't paint a very positive picture of what Korean youth can expect or hope for in the future (in Seoul there is a new generation of under-earning young professionals in deadweight finance jobs). Moreover, the movie's group mentality - with the dynamic and fallout between three school friends - is explored with a sombre touch and some unexpected revelations. Acting performances are excellent all round, with the young cast especially impressive, whilst the (high end) digital photography and handheld camera techniques adding both a distance and personal intrusion into the various plot points. Whilst Bleak Night is quite overbearing, and the pace frequently lapses into a crawl, this is still an aesthetically interesting debut and a worthwhile addition to the contemporary teen angst genre.

Bleak and bitter - Third Window continues to dig out some of Korea's most intriguing contemporary obscurities...
SCORE: 3/5
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