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[HanCinema's Film Review] "Seven Years of Night"

2018/03/31 | 777 views | Permalink

It is time to take a look at the depths human darkness and pain can reach in "Seven Years of Night"; the story of a broken man spiraling down his own abyss, and a predator out for revenge. Boasting great performances by Ryu Seung-ryong and Jang Dong-gun, what might seem as a standard revenge piece at first, reveals itself as the fierce battle of the characters against their own demons, whether they are open to facing them or not.

The film is very focused on topics of domestic abuse, post traumatic stress disorder and toxic masculinity. It is a thriller built around a conflict born through extreme conditions, but its core is the effects that a broken mentality without internal strength and external support can have for someone and those suffering under them. The film, which is based on a novel of the same title, explores this without excusing its characters' actions and morality, but also without demonizing mental illness.

Technically, "Seven Years of Night" is a feast for the senses. Its atmosphere makes the setting feel like a different world, its imagined sequences bleed with light and darkness, color and emptiness. There is a sense of despair and isolation around every corner and on every detail, and when the music gets it right, it is quite an experience. At the same time, the music can become overwhelmingly dramatic and generic at times, which inevitably detracts from certain scenes. Important sequences suffer for it.

My two main complaints in this otherwise great piece, however, are the balancing of the revenge and drama elements, as well as the try-hard insertion of supernatural teasing. While this is not the story of a man's revenge on another, but the story of two broken men headed towards disaster, the plot largely focuses on that revenge after a certain point. It fragments the story into segments of thriller and social drama that do not always work together.

The aforementioned supernatural teasing comes from the creators trying to hammer the story's metaphors in with an overzealous mindset. We have cartoonish creepy shamans, a seemingly psychic village woman, and the casual teasing of how the lake this is set around swallows people. The themes of the film are strong enough to carry its symbolism, so these elements only confuse the viewer, and they feel like a bad case of preaching to the choir.

These few issues aside, it is a highly enjoyable film. "Seven Years of Night" is a brutal, fascinating journey through the long-lasting impact of pain and denial. It is a well-acted, well-conceived piece with great emotional weight. It constantly keeps you in that beautiful state where you can just about handle and enjoy what you are seeing, while at the same time feeling every bit of the visceral tragedy of it all.

Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'

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