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[HanCinema's Film Review] "Another Night"

2017/07/22 | Permalink

Seok-i (played by Kang Pil-suk) is a Chinese man who used to live in South Korea, where he married Eun-im (played by Kim Sae-byuk). He briefly returns to find out what happened to her after receiving a mysterious letter. Seok-i has to ask old friends to get any clue of what happened to Eun-im, and progress is limited. Much like Seok-i himself, Eun-im simply drifted away from the world she knew, since there wasn't anything to tie her down.

The tone of "Another Night" is quite poetic. That is a warning as much as it is an endorsement, because poetry can be pretty boring. Poetry has very little actual content, so most of the enjoyment of it is just about carefully reflecting over whatever small meaning you can find. Likewise, "Another Night" eschews plot or dialog, instead simply focusing on its bleak world with lonely characters who barely have any connection to the places they inhabit day in and day out.

Even the idea of friendship doesn't necessarily mean that much. While everyone tries to be as pleasant as possible with Seok-i, even to the point of having dinner with him, at the end of the day it's pretty clear to everyone that Seok-i only came back to Korea to settle the Eun-im issue. He doesn't care about anyone else. It's not personal, that's just the kind of mindset generally held by a person like Seok-i who is not tied down by location. If Seok-i was a more emotionally connected person, he would not be a chronic expat in the first place.

That's where the romance comes into play for "Another Night" - while we don't really see that much of Eun-im, we know that to Seok-i, she must have been a very special person for him to go to all this trouble just to find her. But then, Eun-im isn't just a person to Seok-i. She's an entire metaphor for how his life almost had a purpose once, and then, by sheer accident, that purpose fell away. And even if he finds her now, Seok-i will probably never get that sense of purpose again.

Mind, all of this is communicated purely through the mood and subtle acting, so I'm very serious when I tell you that you have to go into "Another Night" expecting poetry. This isn't a movie that wants to explicitly spell anything out for you because that's another facet of who Seok-i simply is. He's not the kind of guy who puts much thought into these grander life questions. There are jobs. He does them. He leaves.

Sort of like "Another Night" itself in the meta-perspective. I'm not sure anyone is ever actually going to see this movie. It premiered in Busan back in 2015, and there have been no hints since then of a domestic release, or any release anywhere really. I can understand that. Literally speaking the movie is kind of boring. Still, it makes for a nice background memory. Like Eun-mi, it leaves an impact even as it is ultimately forgotten.

Review by William Schwartz

"Another Night" is directed by Choi Yong-seok and features Kang Pil-suk and Kim Sae-byuk.

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