"Yoon is now prominent among a highly promising next-generation of South Korean film-makers" — Neil Young, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
Director: Yoon Sung-hyun
Screenplay: Yoon Sung-hyun
Cast: Lee Je-hoon, Seo Jun-young, Park Jun-min
Producers: Yoon Sung-hyun, Byun Bong-sun
Print Source: CJ Entertainment
North american Premiere
2010 | 10 min
Korean language, English subtitles
They are young and they have their whole lives ahead of them. Like all South Korean college boys, they goof around, play baseball, discover the joys of flirting with girls, bicker with each other and regard the future with a mix of excitement and apprehension. The tight trio of Hee-june, Dong-yoon and Ki-tae seems insparable. Under the apparently rock-solid surface, however, everything is crumbling. It’s a complete cataclym, in fact. There is of course a natural heirarchy among the young males, in which Hee-june, the reserved intellectual, is pushed and intimidated by the manipulative, charismatic and hot-tempered Ki-tae, who imagines himself the leader of the pack. And of course, where there’s the spark of love, there are smoldering rivalries and wounds. As well, they don’t share the same family lives, the same routines once in school. There are also the thin-skinned emotional responses so common to adolescence. All of which is perfectly normal. So what is it that drove these three closely bound friends to break apart? What led them to punches, kicks and words that cut deeply? What drove Ki-tae to take his own life?
Structured as an investigation in which Ki-tae’s father seeks to understand his son’s death, BLEAK NIGHT is unquestionably one of the most astute looks at the phenomenon of suicide among the young. Opening a multitude of windows onto the psychology of its characters, writer/director Yoon Sung-hyun delivers a sobering and impressive work of quasi-documentary realism that at the same time, in an almost surreal manner, transposes the protagonists’ questioning into the hearts of the audience. No two viewers will leave a screening of BLEAK NIGHT with the same interpretation of the events it presents. With his debut feature, Yoon displays a mastery of scripting and a stunning mise en scene, making use of a style and thematic concerns recalling Lee Chang-dong (PEPPERMINT CANDY, SECRET SUNSHINE). He cleverly alternates between the past and present of this misdirected gang of students, revealing densely developed characters while refusing to paint any as villain or victim — at one point or another, each plays either role. By turns witty and wounding, his dialogue is punctuated by scenes in which love is expressed through the rawest insults, in the spirit of Yang Ik-june’s BREATHLESS. Fortified by a solid cast of young actors, Yoon shows with BLEAK NIGHT, winner of the FIPRESCI award at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, that he has a bright future ahead of him!