After the loss of both parents, 11 years old Oat faces an uncertain future when his older brother must submit to Thailand's annual military draft lottery. Unable to convince his brother to ... See full summary »
Damien lives with his mother Marianne, a doctor, while his father is on a tour of duty abroad. He is bullied by Thomas, whose mother is ill. The boys find themselves living together when Marianne invites Thomas to come and stay with them.
Sumin is an orphan trying to balance work in a factory with study at an art college and an evening job. One night, a rich young businessman makes an advance on him during one of his driving... See full summary »
Three teenage boys Yong-ju, Gi-Woong and Gi-Taek, were once best friends in middle school, but they become estranged from each other once they enter high school. While Yong-ju and Gi-Taek ... See full summary »
Los Angeles' Korean spas serve as meeting place and bridge between past and future for generations of immigrant families; Spa Night explores one Korean-American family's dreams and realities as each struggles with the overlap of personal desire, disillusionment, and sense of tradition.Written by
Spa Night Movie
Delicate, well made but almost too understated coming of age tale
Beautifully shot and very well made on a truly micro budget, this story of a gay 2nd generation teen Korean coming of age in Los Angeles gains from it's intelligent production, attention to detail and unusual cultural setting, but also loses something in it's extremely familiar basic story of adolescence as well as in being so cold in it's lead actor's effect-less nature and the character's almost wordless personality. Add that with the film's distanced style and there ultimately is more to admire here than to be deeply emotionally engaged in. It's also not helpful that while Joe Seo underplays right to the edge of disappearing as David, our protagonist, some in supporting roles overplay to the point of near caricature. Neither extreme might have felt off putting in a film where the acting was more of a piece. But having the two styles next to each other was too often a reminder I was watching a film played by actors, not real human beings. Also, while I have no idea how old Joe Seo is, he looks far older than the high-school student he's supposed to be, which also took something away from feeling for the character's youthful confusion and ennui.
None-the-less, for all that carping I'm very glad I saw the film, and in Ahn's delicate use of imagery there were a good number of poetic moments that captured the painful and joyful confusion of finding one's adult self starting to emerge, even when that self puts you on a cultural collision course with your both your parents and your community.
If not the best coming of age film of recent years, it's at least a worthy addition to that admittedly overcrowded genre.
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