Sung-Hyun Yoon's Bleak Night takes on the complicated subject of teenage suicide in a very straight-forward and genuine way. The film begins with a bereaved father who is simply looking for answers -trying to fully understand why his son would take his own life at such a young age. The narrative of Bleak Night is multi-layered, taking place both in the past and present. As the father seeks out his son's friends in search of answers, the viewer is subjected to flashbacks of Ki-Tai and his friends, familiarizing us with the relationships and slowly and subtlety revealing the increasing sadness of Ki-Tai which ultimately leads to his suicide. Even though the viewer is aware of the outcome from the very beginning, the film is an incredibly affecting portrait, effectively proving that the journey is far more important then the conclusion. Most films tackling the subject of teenage suicide would go with a stereotypical kid who is abused and bullied, pushing him over the edge. This is one of the aspects which makes Bleak Night interesting, in that it shows that Ki-Tai is the opposite, an overconfident teenager whose tough exterior and bullish behavior are simply a shell, hiding the incredible loneliness he feels from living in a family where he doesn't feel loved or appreciated. Aesthetically the film uses lots of hand-held and a low-contrast color palette to create this gritty, somber feel which compliments the story quite well. The final scene of Bleak NIght is perfect, merging memory and the present together as Dong-Yung, Ki-Tai's oldest friend, reflects about his friends life. Even though the friendship between the two of them ended very poorly, it is clear that Dong-Yung misses his friend very much. Bleak Night tells a very difficult subject in a very genuine and honest way, it's deeply affecting and compelling story that shouldn't be missed.
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