Thursday, January 10, 2013

First Look ’13: Sleepless Night

Everyone says marriage requires hard work, but nobody ever wants to show it on film.  Yet, there is certainly plenty of dramatic fodder there.  A young married couple will prove the point when they navigate some tricky issues in Jang Kun-jae’s Sleepless Night (trailer here), which screens this Sunday as a selection the Museum of the Moving Image’s second annual First Look film series.

They have been married two years without getting pregnant.  This may have been either a conscious or subconscious decision.  Money is a concern.  He works in a warehouse and she is yoga instructor.  Perhaps more significantly, he is still not sure he is ready to be a parent.  Both clearly understand this is an important difference of opinion, leading to anxiety over the state of their union.  They will have to do that everyday couple’s work to stay together, especially with more and more of their married friends divorcing or having children.

Like many films programmed at this year’s First Look, Sleepless is a quiet, moody film.  However, it is also wholly engrossing for viewers willing to invest in it.  This film is far too honest for anyone whose idea of movie romance is Gerard Butler planting a sloppy kiss on an impeccably blow dried Jennifer Aniston.  By the same token, it is also considerably more erotic.

Kim Soo-hyun and Kim Joo-ryeong make an attractively down-to-earth couple.  Together they share a genuine, lived-in chemistry that rings true in every scene.  While Jang’s two dream sequences are not well delineated on-screen, his patience and sensitivity allow some telling moments to develop organically.

Deceptively simple, the sixty-five minute Sleepless Night is surprisingly deep and rewarding.  Recommended for those who want to see a movie relationship presented in an intelligent and very real manner, it screens with the longish short As the Flames Rose this Sunday (1/13), the final day of First Look 2013, at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens.