Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: Bleak Night (2010)

Bleak Night (Review)
Yoon Sung-hyun/Lee Je-hoon/2010
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...a very sad and effective film that works impressively off of dialogue..."

A father begins to unravel the events that led to his son's death.

Bleak Night tells the present and past. In the present, a father is looking for closure. His son, Ki-tae (Lee Je-hoon), is dead, and he wants to know why one best friend moved prior to his death and why the other missed the funeral. In the past, a seemingly honest misunderstanding begins to cripple this trio's close relationship. From one misunderstanding to another, the relationship spirals into madness. The ending is somewhat unfulfilling; I like its openness, but it feels like there is still a lack of closure -- maybe purposefully?

Bleak Night is a very bleak and effective coming-of-age drama. Or maybe more of a coming-of-death drama? (in other words: it doesn't really feel like a typical coming-of-age film.) The story mostly follows this trio of friends as their relationship slowly crumbles. It works very well off of its dialogue. The conversations are very tense -- and it usually does this without music, which I believe to be an accomplishment. In fact, I really like the realistic approach, it didn't feel melodramatic. Anyway, the film really keeps you the edge thanks to the dialogue and bleak atmosphere. It is a slow-burn, and it is occasionally too slow for its own good, though. Some of the storytelling can be a little confusing at times, too.

Lee Je-hoon is fantastic. In fact, most of the cast deliver realistic and honest performances. The film is shot very well; the cinematography is great. The film hardly uses music, but when it does, it blends very well with the film. The English subtitles are great and the film looks great in High Definition on Netflix Instant. (it may no longer be available on Netflix when this review goes live.) Director Yoon Sung-hyun does well in crafting a bleak atmosphere and making a tense story out of what could've been just another high school drama; there are some pacing and storytelling issues, though, and the closure isn't satisfying.

Overall, Bleak Night is a great drama. It's a very sad and effective film that works impressively off of dialogue -- in other words, the tension never feels fabricated. It also has amazing performances. However, the pacing and storytelling could've been fine-tuned. If you like films that make you feel, and don't mind a slow pace, this one is for you.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some violence.

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