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Oh Geun-tae (JUNG Woo) is a country boy with a booming baritone who is discovered by aspiring singer-songwriter Lee Jang-hui (JIN Goo) and thrust into the bustling world of Seoul's iconic ... See full summary »
What "Ad Lib Night" accomplishes in its simplicity is nothing short of exceptional. The delicate minimalism employed in Lee Yoon-ki's third feature is tremendously absorbing and is just handled with immense grace. The stealthily devastating isolation of big city living is evoked by a mysterious doppelganger's acceptance to stand beside a dying man in proxy of his runaway daughter. While its key sequences involve the enchantingly doleful stranger, her identity is the least important aspect of the film. This gesture of good faith, which spans a single night in the household, becomes a gentle and emotional narrative that taps into the pulse of young adults, scurrying to depart from their familial tethers and seeking independence. It develops an intricate, underlying tapestry of shame, guilt, responsibility and maturation. Lee's camera acts as a silent, vacant observer. With great clarity and poignancy the camera weaves in and out of conversations held between the family members gathered around the deathbed. The streamlined economy of his static camera-work witnesses the different dynamics and insecurities of the close extended family members through their dialogue and (or lack of) physical expressions. The mood remains plaintive and avoids the trappings of a melodrama by dividing the focus onto the different energies of each character dealing with the situation at hand. The bittersweet melancholy resonating from its final scenes ruminates on the bonds we take for granted and the kinships we have lost.
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