Bleak Night

| The Royal

South Korea 2010 Rated PG 116:00 Korean with English subtitles Toronto Premiere

Three best friends—Ki-tae, Dong-yoon, and Hee-june—attend an all-boys school in South Korea where they horse around and play fight as teenaged boys do. On the surface, the teasing and pranks at each others’ expense, though cruel at times, seem like nothing more than the usual exchanges between close friends—even brothers. The dynamics between three people are never balanced, however, and it soon becomes apparent that there are subtle undercurrents of resentment that underlie the friendly banter.

Suddenly, and almost without any discernible reason, Dong-yoon finds himself caught in a power struggle between Ki-tae and Hee-june. Clueless and confused, Dong-yoon begs to know what has happened between them, but neither will confess, and their friendship abruptly devolves into an ugly, territorial, and violent rift. Alliances among their group of friends shift, and the joking exchanges and friendly brawls that occur between the boys take on an ominous tone. When the disagreement leads to a tragic end, the friends are left bewildered and forever fractured.

Director Yoon Sung-Hyun takes us into the dark and anxious heart of a young boy who, behind a carefully constructed image of confidence, collapses under the weight of his insecurities. This debut feature film reveals the complex and competitive power dynamics at play among teenaged boys, and is a dark reminder of how fragile young friendships can be.

– Sonia Sakamoto-Jog