Saturday, February 05, 2022

Slamdance ’22: Goodafternoon Sweetdream

Maybe Budweiser will appreciate the extended product placement, but should a high school student like Ye Won be drinking all day? Actually, she may have already graduated, but there are events and people from her school days that she still needs to process through dreams. We watch four of them in Bang Seunghyeon’s Goodafternoon Sweetdream, which screens during the soon-to-conclude 2022 Slamdance Film Festival.

For a while, Ye Won is just hanging at the park, drinking a few Buds with her friend Hyeon (played the director). They mostly talk about boys, logically enough, until Ye Won mentions her late father. At that point, we understand he has never been far from her thoughts. He is even more top of mind in her second dream, which consists of another conversation with another bestie, Ji Won, who might also be dead. It is hard to tell, especially since this is a dream.

For her third dream, Ye Won revisits her father’s funeral and the time she spent there with Noah, a boy she not so subtly held a torch for. During her fourth dream, Ye Won converses with her younger sister Hye Won, either just before their father’s death or during the immediate aftermath—again ambiguity.

You could think of
Goodafternoon as the most lowkey, deadpan, slackerish Christopher Nolan film he has yet to make. Both Ye Won and viewers are forced to interpret her dreams for meaning and there will be no easy answer revealed. Yet, the deepening understanding of Ye Won’s psyche pays off quite surprisingly on an emotional level.

Frankly, the black-and-white
Goodafternoon looks deceptively simple, essentially consisting of four long-held static shots (and a handful of brief cutaways). Yet, cinematographer Lee Dongwon uses some interesting techniques to emphasize the film’s dreamlike nature.

Son Yewon is terrific as Ye Won. Whether playful (dreams #1 and #3) or painful (dreams #2 and #4), her behavior conveys so much of her character’s conflicted feelings, without any cheap theatrics or histrionics. Director Bang is a nice foil for her in the first dream, while Sung Sanhee is genuinely poignant consoling Ye Won during the second dream.

takes a bit of time to acclimate to, but with a running time just over an hour, it never belabors its unconventional approach. Thanks to the work of Bong and Lee, it never feels stagy. Instead, it extraordinarily intimate, like you are in her head and soul. Recommended for fans of Korean filmmakers like Lee Kwang-kuk (influenced by Hong Sang-soo, but more postmodern or metaphysically inclined), Goodafternoon Sweetdream screens online through tomorrow (2/6) as part of this year’s Slamdance.