Busan 2014 Review: THE NIGHT Boasts Strong Cast And Clear Message

Contributor; Seoul, South Korea (@pierceconran)
Busan 2014 Review: THE NIGHT Boasts Strong Cast And Clear Message

The Korean winner of this year's Sonje Award for Best Short Film at the Busan International Film Festival, The Night is a simple 35-minute tale of college friends who fall prey to the norms of Korean society. Yet by touching on a number of pressing themes and feeling utterly real, this work by Choi Ki-yun boasts a quiet but undeniable impact.

A couple, along with their two platonic friends Min-hee and Sung-min, visit the seaside for a brief break. They frolic on the beach, talk philosophy over food and drinks and go to bed. But the next day the dynamic begins to change as Min-hee meets up with the girlfriend shortly after and gives her a letter. Not knowing how else to explain herself, the note explains that the boyfriend tried to force himself on her at night during their beach visit. He flatly denies the allegations to his girlfriend, while at the same bragging about the encounter while talking with male friends, which include Sung-min, who harbors a crush on Min-hee and has had enough of the boyfriend's chauvinistic behavior.

During a ribald dorm discussion, male students spread rumours about female promiscuity with abandon but most aggressive and pernicious are the boyfriend's claims. It quickly becomes clear that the girl he besmirches, his victim Min-hee, is merely a scapegoat for his unchecked sexual aggression. If Min-hee is a slut, then how could he be held accountable for attacking her? By turning innocent girls into sex-crazed women, the men who victimize them excuse themselves of their unacceptable behavior.

Perhaps even more upsetting is the girlfriend's refusal to believe Min-hee's allegation, despite clear evidence. She would rather label her best friend a liar than stir up any trouble and go against her man. When the pressure mounts from his insecure girlfriend and angry (not to mention jealous) friend, the aggressor once again throws up a weak defense with fake apologies which are little more than a way to rid himself of an inconvenient situation.

Replete with such easy soundbites as 'every guy does it when he's drunk', 'girls like her are easy' and 'your attitude made him act that way', The Night might be just a little too on the nose for its own good, though it's tale, far from exaggerated, is a very common on in Korea.

As happens so often in Korean cinema (just as it does in Korean society), characters must get drunk before violently expressly their pain and subsequently trying to wash it away with karaoke. To be sure, Choi's film is far from original, yet nevertheless proves a simple but effective story guided by well-formed characters (in spite of the short form narrative) and clear dialogue that is never simplistic, though, as already mentioned, at times a little pointed. A strong cast and a well integrated message make The Night a worthy BIFF award winner.

The Night

  • Hao Zhou
  • Hao Zhou
  • Hao Zhou
  • Xiao Xiao Liu
  • Jin Kang Li
  • Feng Qi Zhou
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biffbusan film festivalkoreakorean cinemashort filmsonje awardthe night그날 밤Hao ZhouXiao Xiao LiuJin Kang LiFeng Qi ZhouDrama

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