Chungmuro/Film Reviews
Movie Review: Bleak Night
by | January 6, 2013 | 65 Comments

Bleak Night is a remarkable film. So remarkable that it has languished in my drafts folder for a year, for fear that the review wouldn’t do the film justice.

What finally spurred me to take it up again was the light bulb that went off in my head while watching KBS’s currently airing drama School 2013, which took me back emotionally to the experience of watching Bleak Night—similar in many ways, yet also worlds apart in spirit. It isn’t fair to compare the two directly against each other given their respective formats, so I don’t think of them in terms of one being better than the other, but perhaps they can be observed as unexpected companion pieces.

I love School 2013′s realism, but it’s realism bathed in an optimistic light: It takes the darkness of Bleak Night and promises you hope at the end of the tunnel. In that sense, School 2013 is a more enjoyable watch, but also the safer one. Not a criticism; it’s that hope for the future that makes the current trials and tribulations bearable.

Bleak Night, on the other hand, is stark, stirring, bare-bones, and the most intensely moving thing I’ve seen in a long while.

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Bleak Night unfolds amidst an air of mystery. A high school student is dead, and his father seeks to understand how it came about by approaching his son’s old friends for information. As he attempts to make sense of the fragmented picture, the present-day timeline progresses on a parallel track with several flashback threads: Time interweaves, cutting back and forth and picking up rhythm as clues are uncovered and the blank spots filled in.

As the film opens, high-rises line the skyline in austere similarity—a cold, unfamiliar Anycity. Long stretches of spare silence set the mood, which is decidedly stark, but the film slowly adds in a warmth that hits you all the harder for the knowledge that it is short-lived.

In order to discuss Bleak Night, giving away the identity of the dead boy is a necessity, and anybody who reads a review will know from the outset which student he is. Even so, try to wipe that knowledge from your mind as you watch the film dropping hints and possible misdirects, because the film’s deft hand with these clues adds a layer of suspense that is worth experiencing, for the way it puts your heart in your throat and your mind in a whirl.

A group of high school boys hang out, posture, befriend, and bully all without referring to anybody by name—is the dead Ki-tae that tall guy with the fierce eyes? The quiet, easygoing one? We suspect it may be that morose-looking victim even though he is called by a nickname, Baek-hee; his real name is withheld for several scenes yet.

But because some spoilers are necessary, the truth slowly comes into focus, subverting expectation when Ki-tae turns out not to be the aggressively bullied Baek-hee but the head bully (Lee Je-hoon, who is a revelation). Even more startling is the reveal that Ki-tae and Baek-hee (whose name is actually Hee-joon, played by Park Jung-min) were once best friends, along with a third schoolmate, Dong-yoon (Seo Joon-young).

Knowing who died won’t ruin the film, however, because the purpose of Bleak Night is not to root out the mystery of who it was but of how things came to be so broken. Above all, more than the whos and the whens are the whys. A scene of a gang of boys beating up one boy gives way to another scene, on another day, of that same boy smiling with his tormentor. How did this come to be?

One flashback thread drops us in the aftermath of the three boys’ fractured friendship, where Hee-joon is persistently harassed by classmates, with Ki-tae leading the charge. These scenes provide testimony to the lies that the boys tell the father in the present day, providing sharp contrast to their vague words about not really knowing what happened.

Then there’s the heartbreaking flashback thread that takes us farther back in time to when all three were inseparable—it’s this thread that all but crushes you because you know it will not last. Happiness seen through the lens of a grimmer future has a way of turning into tragedy.

As the movie progress, the earlier scenes come back and cycle around with new understanding. Thus each carefully laid segment, whether present-day or flashback, reveals something new and twists our perception of the situation in new directions.

Ki-tae’s father is played with quiet bafflement by Jo Sung-ha, who has woefully little to go on as he begins his quest for the truth. All he knows is that some boys crop up frequently in Ki-tae’s photos and came to his funeral. It becomes clear that his father knew very little of Ki-tae’s school personality, but it’s not something for which we can hold him to blame; there’s a clear delineation between how these boys behave with each other and how they act to the world.

We’re allowed intimate access into the closed-off world of these characters, all adolescent bravado and nonstop swearing and smoking in secret. Lest we assume the film depicts the lives of a fringe group of delinquents or a particularly virulent strain of high school bullies, we also see that the boys are perfectly capable of cleaning up and speaking respectfully to the world outside their circle. It may be this idea that is most unsettling, that such a group of well-mannered youngsters could be the very same who transform into a pack of vicious alpha dogs in the absence of outsiders.

The flashback strain that goes farthest back in time is the cheeriest, as the three boys spend most of their time with each other doing normal teenage things—goofing off, throwing a baseball around, talking a lot about nothing at all. It’s mundane, it’s heartwarming; it’s terrible that this is the story’s outset and not its conclusion.

The camaraderie continues through the group’s encounter with a trio of girls, with whom they arrange a group date. Perhaps that’s when the cracks form in the friendship, although it seems simplistic to assign the blame here. After all, it’s Ki-tae who tries the most to keep the buddies together when one of the girls breaks ranks and ditches Hee-joon to pursue him instead. He pointedly chooses his bro over the girl, but the passive Hee-joon seems to simmer in silence nonetheless. He’s not so small-minded that he holds this against Ki-tae… but he can’t say that it doesn’t bother him. Is this a cause of group discord, or merely a symptom?

Thus Hee-joon pulls back, and Ki-tae is left searching for a way to make amends. His efforts to smooth things over with his best friend provide a confusing contrast to the flashback thread that picks up some time afterward—once the glue of the trio, now Ki-tae has been named jjang (top dog) and never passes up an opportunity to pick on loner-like Hee-joon. And this is no grade-school-level of taunting, but a relentless assault of barbs and blows.

Ki-tae is cruel and menacing, so dogged in his persecution that it’s chilling. He displays an almost psychopathic charisma, whether he’s commanding his army of followers or speaking in soft, entreating tones that entice even as they set the hairs standing on the back of your neck, warning you not to be taken in.

Lee Je-hoon’s electric performance is pivotal to making Ki-tae, and the film as a whole, work. He is by turns villainous and victimized, and at times it’s difficult to distinguish which is the prevailing trait in his mind. Outwardly he’s the instigator, but he’s not without reason: When the tables first turn on Ki-tae and he finds himself the mocked one, he’s put on the defensive and the darker Ki-tae inside stirs. In a moment of rare vulnerability, he lets his guard down with Hee-joon and admits that he has no mother; a puzzle piece falls into place to understand that his offense is defense.

That he entrusts Hee-joon with such a guarded secret is proof of his faith in their bond, which goes a long way into explaining his hot-cold, love-hate reactions later. In the later bullying timeline, in between attacks Ki-tae displays a trace of the vulnerability of his flashback self—he apologizes for beating up Hee-joon and offers to put an end to their strife. You breathe a sigh of relief at the overture… until Hee-joon rejects him flatly, calling out Ki-tae for never thinking of him as friend in the first place. He says coldly that nobody is Ki-tae’s real friend, adding that he never was, either.

You fear for Hee-joon, and in the back of your mind perhaps you entertain the uncomfortable thought that it’s a good thing that Ki-tae died. But the flashes of the thoughtful, caring Ki-tae are never far from our minds, being skillfully woven into the main storyline so that it’s difficult not to explain away his behavior as misunderstood, misguided.

Yet there is a difficult truth that the film forces you to confront—it challenges you not to excuse him. Because truth be told, Ki-tae is a menace. He may be posturing out of fear, lashing out in pre-emptive strikes to hide the fact that he is the most susceptible to the adolescent taunts he dishes out, but he is also frightening and dangerous. At the end of the day he is his own worst enemy.

It is assumed, though not outright stated, that Ki-tae committed suicide. I appreciate Bleak Night’s subtle touch in doling out information—so much is said in what is not said. Strung taut with tension, the film lets us connect the dots ourselves, feeling the weight of the revelations as they land, rather than delivering them to us packaged perfectly with motive and interpretation wrapped up in a nice neat bow.

Dad’s inquiries not only provide a window into the past, they also kickstart the two surviving friends into action. Hee-joon, having transferred to a new school, starts looking for their third friend Dong-yoon, who’s been MIA. He appears to have moved on with his life, but he starts to revisit those days as he tries to make sense of it himself.

Dong-yoon offers the other side of the picture, showing us a guy who had the strength to stand up to his out-of-control friend. However, Ki-tae alienates Dong-yoon as well, and in the days leading up to Ki-tae’s presumed suicide Dong-yoon throws familiar words at him: That Ki-tae never had a single friend in his life.

You’d almost believe that were true—and Ki-tae’s response proves he believes it—if not for the scenes that cut in and around these moments, showing us the times when they did believe in that friendship. Immediately following that confrontation, we cut to one that took place farther in the past, back when they were friends. Their conversation is prescient; Ki-tae has been newly recognized as jjang and sighs that he knows it’s all over once they graduate. “But till it all goes away, I’ve got you, haven’t I?”

It is worth noting that the director—a new name, Yoon Sung-hyun, who has won a number of awards for Bleak Night, including a Blue Dragon and a Grand Bell—knits together this nonlinear narrative without use of captions to anchor each scene in “two months later” or “present time,” etc. Thus we are left to infer from the context which timeline we’re in. It sounds confusing, and it very well could be, but the story points are so clear that it never becomes a problem. The director displays the utmost skill in carrying along the emotional flow of the film despite the disjointed chronology.

In fact, the film wouldn’t really work in chronological order—not the way it does now, at least. That’s because Bleak Night isn’t about a plot-related payoff, necessarily. You’re given the outcome up front, and brought around to understanding. That’s what lends the film its poignancy—it doesn’t come from the events themselves, but in the way that understanding and truth are the true goal. The film makes you want to save them all, despite knowing one is destined not to be, but what it gives us isn’t salvation but insight.

In that sense this film, which loops around upon itself in a braid of time, is akin to a fragmented memory. We live our lives in a linear fashion, by the necessity of time, but the experience of living is not so neat a line. It can be fractured like memories or plaited together like locks of hair, the experiences wrapping over each other—they are part of a whole yet distinctly separate. We live our lives in the present while remembering something in the past concurrently.

Bleak Night draws upon a recurring motif of railroad tracks, often punctuated with the boys tossing around a baseball treasured by Ki-tae. The opening shot is kinetic and crowded, as a large crowd of schoolboys gang up on one victim. As the film progresses, however, the numbers decrease as we see Ki-tae with his friends in happier days, before he was crowned jjang. Funny that the thing he gave up to be the jjang was the thing least worth it in the end. That ties in to the title of the movie, unintentionally or not, which in Korean is the word for “lookout”; this may be the cautionary tale of what happens when friends fail as lookouts for one another.

The verdict: Bleak Night is stunning and stark, and captures a magnetic Lee Je-hoon. There’s bleakness, yes, but it’s not bleakness meant to make you miserable; it sets the scene for the silence to speak. It allows the unvarnished emotions to come alive to break your heart, and maybe punch you in the gut a little. It gets my highest recommendation, although you may need to take a moment or fifty to recover afterward. 10/10.

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65 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. UJ

    I guess I must add it to my must watch list now :D

     (0)


  2. hanna

    Count me in, surely to watch this.
    Thanks jb. :-)

     (0)


  3. lychee

    thank you for a wonderful review!

    I watched this when it first came out, and it’s one of the best movies i have seen.

    You can never find a film like this that talks so truly about some friendships.

    Lee Jehoon portrayed his character to perfection as well.

     (0)


  4. kika

    Thanks javabeans, I love reading all that you write. This is a beautiful piece of review. :)

     (0)


  5. rainbow

    thanks for the awesome review…..

     (0)


  6. 'dalia

    i haven’t seen this, but definitely putting on my list.

    weirdly enough i was doing a search on Lee Je-hoon just today and found out back in October he enrolled in the military, so i suppose we’ll have to wait awhile to see his next performance…

     (0)


  7. LL

    Thanks for the great review. I just realized this movie is already in my instant queue on Netflix. I’ll definitely be watching this tonight.

     (0)


    • 7.1 koko

      how did u find it in netflix?

       (0)


      • 7.1.1 LL

        I was probably on the main website and found it in the foreign movies section. It also may have popped up in one of the categories while I was using Netflix on my roku or TV. The search option should bring it right up though.

         (0)


      • 7.1.2 Cookie

        Or you could just type the title into the search box =P

         (1)


  8. Danna

    Sigh. I miss Lee Je Hoon…why has it only been like 2 months since he left?

     (0)


  9. Ann

    This director seems to have an excellent grasp of what goes through a parent’s mind when their child dies. Wanting to know why is so very important. Having information come in bits and pieces, some possibly contradictory, is also very realistic.

    My own son died suddenly at the age of 16 due to a heart defect. He was in a summer PE class when he collapsed, and we were not able to see him before he died. For months afterward bits and pieces of what happened came to me. Some were confusing and contradictory, some were infuriating, and some were heartwarming. It takes a great deal of time and thought to sort through the pieces, and there was no real conclusion. After eight years, I have learned to live without a definitive answer.

    Therefore, it also makes sense that there is no definitive ending to the film, because often there is no answer. It sounds like a film that is very well done, but I don’t think I will watch it.

     (0)


    • 9.1 Dongsaeng killer

      So sorry about your loss…..

       (0)


  10. 10 graceface

    I’ve been meaning to watch this, but I totally forgot to memo it somewhere. Thank you for the reminder! I actually skipped over most of the review bc I didn’t want to read any spoilers, but I shall definitely come back to this after I watch it. I’m thoroughly enjoying School 2013 and its realism, so I hope I can see that connection in the movie as well.

     (0)


  11. 11 cheekbones

    I love Bleak Night. I knew of it first when dramabeans put up the trailer. I was intrigued. Then, I kept seeing Lee Je-hoon’s name with high praise for Bleak Night. So, I had to watch it.

    My take is that Ki-tae is so lost and he just doesn’t know how to get back. As his “true” friends are leaving him (because they “grow up” ?), he slips into despair. And as he compensates this by being even tougher and rougher, his two most important friends distance themselves further and further. Really, I think I can understand why at the end he commits suicide. He really is his worst enemy.

     (0)


  12. 12 Sheryl

    Amazing review – poetic and poignant. Thanks and I most certainly will be catching this film.

     (0)


  13. 13 koko

    anyone know where i can watch this ,movie online? with eng subtitles?

     (0)


  14. 14 canxi

    I love love this movie. I’ve watched it twice and will watch it over and over. Ki Tae is a complicated character–at times I felt he loved his friend Hee Joon so much that he was in love with him…but then he was dangerous and he was cruel and I couldn’t blame Hee Joon for not wanting to have anything to do with him. There may or may not be something but it’s hard to tell and I definitely admire this movie for allowing the viewer to draw their own conclusions from the events given.

    I, sadly, had a friend that committed suicide. One of the many things you have to accept is that you’ll probably never know why…

    I definitely think Ki Tae was very lonely, when he reached the top and maybe before that, too. Lee Je Hoon did an amazing job. So did the director.

     (0)


  15. 15 Conny

    Just added this to my Nexflix queue. If it wasn’t almost 2 am I’d consider watching it now, but alas, old age is rearing its head–along with the fact that I only have one day of my kids’ winter break left so we’re all trying to get our regular school cycle back into place–so this movie wil have to wait until a more ‘decent’ hour. =)

    Thanks for the great review!!

     (0)


  16. 16 latteholic

    Now I also need to add this to my must-watch list… Sigh. I can’t wait for weekend (and it’s just the beginning of the week)

     (0)


  17. 17 vipkate

    yay thanks for the review!

    I saw the cover of this movie but did not care to watch it..

    Guess i shud watch it now, it seems quite a good movie.

     (0)


  18. 18 crazedlu

    The last scene is what it’s like. You think on it for a while, then breathe in what good you can remember and hoped for.

    Very good review.

     (0)


  19. 19 MUSE

    I really enjoyed reading your eloquent and carefully crafted review.

     (0)


  20. 20 Lady Seoul

    Great review! I appreciate it, because I really don’t want to watch it. I’ve seen enough depressing dramas and films lately. lol

     (0)


    • 20.1 canxi

      Don’t worry, Lady. I wouldn’t say this is depressing, but it does leave quite an impact.

       (0)


  21. 21 Bengbeng

    i’ve been meaning to watch this movie, but i don’t know if i can bear the sadness it would follow me =(. But since it’s a highly recommended movie by a lot already, i’ll watch it tonight then read JB’s review after.

     (0)


    • 21.1 E

      where do you get the movie from? do you have a link or something? :)

       (0)


  22. 22 shiori

    wow, thank you for this review! the last time i watched a movie that featured a friendship gone awry (due to bullying) was a few years back when i discovered all about lily chou-chou. both movies have different plots/characters but they both succeed in deepening your understanding of the perspectives of both the bullied and the bullier/how things came to be so broken. i’m still (emotionally) processing the movie, having just finished it. but i thank you for giving such a wonderful review and recommendation. would have never discovered such a great movie otherwise!

     (0)


  23. 23 dramafiend

    Live this movie…I discovered & started following Lee Je Hoon through this movie cos the way he portrayed Ki Tae.was perfect…..I watched it among with 2 Japanese movies Confessions & Villain….. These movies are highly recommended….

     (0)


    • 23.1 Peridot

      I’ve been trying to look for Villain (Akunin). Would you mind telling me where you watched it? Thank you.

       (0)


      • 23.1.1 dtp_jnr

        The website where i watched it, the movie cannot be found anymore

         (0)


        • 23.1.1.1 Peridot

          Oh, okay. What website was that anyway?

           (0)


  24. 24 Geneva

    This has been on my list for awhile, but when I saw this post I had to finally sit down and watch it. I agree that while emotional, it’s not at heart a depressing film. The subject matter itself may be tragic, but if some movies aim to squeeze as many tears out of you as possible, this one just wants to tell a story, and a powerful one at that. Thanks for the review! :)

     (0)


  25. 25 spazmo

    is this available anywhere online? i just searched for it, found nothing… : (

     (0)


    • 25.1 cheekbones

      I watched it at YT back in February last year. I don’t think it’s there anymore, though.

      But, here…… :)
      http://www.dramacrazy.net/korean-movie/bleak-night-watch/

      Btw, this is what I wrote to my friend after watching it almost a year ago. My own short review.

      Bleak Night is AMAZING. Lee Je-Hoon is AMAZING. I was and still am sobbing quite uncontrollably toward the end of the movie. I began crying in the 2nd half of the movie. Omg.

      It is the ultimate teenage angst and bromance, told with such sensitivity and subtlety, beautifully directed and acted.

      The movie began slow and you have to be patient to follow the three main characters, the supposedly best friends. But, by the 2nd half, I was drawn and couldn’t let go.

      Ki-tae (played by Je-hoon) is such a complex character. In the beginning you see how he’s a bully and a crazy ass (his own words), but slowly we’ll get to see his true nature. He’s really a very lonely boy, starving for recognition (and maybe affection ?). *sigh*

       (0)


    • 25.2 Jushi

      Just saw it at DramaCrazy. I don’t know if the original is as grainy as the one at DC, but who cares about video quality when the content itself is excellent.

       (0)


  26. 26 anna_ch

    Thank you jb for the amazing review.

    Coincidentally, I just re-watched Bleak Night last couple of days, just because I felt like it.

    Bleak Night is worth all the raves it gets. From the story to the acting and also the directing.

    Le Je Hoon leads the pack with his honest portrayal of Ki-tae, you can’t help but to pity him especially in the scene of his conversation with Dong-yoon before he throws out the familiar line: that Ki-tae never had a friend at all.
    The subtlety displays by Lee Je-hoon is hands down the most beautiful thing to his acting. A+

    Seo Joon-young and Park Jung-min also did very well in both of their characters. On point and realistic.

    With that said, I can’t wait to watch the next project from the director because with a debut movie like this, he knows what he’s doing and he does it excellently.

    To summed it up, it is a little story of a friendship that could have been.

    Bleak Night is highly recommended! Go watch, watch it!

     (0)


  27. 27 Peridot

    I watched this movie a while ago but remembered thinking that it was a thought-provoking film. This film presents a more complicatedd view on the figure of the bully. There is a lot more to Ki-tae than meets the eye, although his cruel actions cannot be justified. It is hearbreaking, however, to hear his friends tell him that he in fact never had any true friends. While the people around him could be called his lackeys, Hee-joon and Dong-yoon were at one time his friends. I remember that Dong-yoon later feels guilty as he reflects on his last words to Ki-tae following the latter’s death and Dong-yoon’s conversation with Ki-tae’s father. I will have to watch this film again!

     (0)


  28. 28 Lavony

    I watched this.
    But I didnt actually get it until I stopped and thought about the movie at the end.

    I think what was so profound in this movie was we saw the bully commit suicide not the victim. Which most movies never really point why a bully is a bully.

    It was good watch and hits you right in the gut. Ki Tae was just a lonely boy with a hard exterior. He was disconnected with his dad and didnt have a mother. So all the affection he got were from his friends I am gonna go out say hat he may have loved his friends more than his dad since we have never seen them together when he was alive. And than to hear his so called friends tell them that they actually never his friends hurt him and punched him in the got. Because now he was truly alone and felt that no one cared for him and he was better off dead.

    One of the lines by Ki Tae that really got me was he revealing to Heejoon that he never had a mom was

    “When you go home you have nice warm meal waiting for you but when I go home I have to make ramen for myself”

    that line made me cry. Because when I come home I always have a meal waiting for me as well. And than I think about Ki Tae and I was like wow seriously got me the gut with that line.

    Amazing movie. Very profound. Highly recommended.

     (1)


    • 28.1 Peridot

      Yes, I agree, very profound. I have been thinking about this movie a lot recently, so I am glad that Javabeans decided to write about it.

       (0)


    • 28.2 news

      * Spoiler *

      That was one of my favorite scenes too. I love how the non-linear format completely subverts our expectations and understandings of the characters and stories, and makes us question our preconceived notions of who the perpetrators and victims are.

      For all his bluffing and jjang posturing, Ki-tae was ‘The Gatekeeper’ to Dong-yoon and Hee-joon. He was a true friend. He protected them, was always forthright and even when he was angry, he acknowledged them, was quick to make amends or had the courtesy to answer/respond by making eye contact. That’s more than I can say about Dong-yoon (always out of the loop) and Hee-joon (passive-aggressive, always overall never a friend).

      In the end, Ki-tae was the victim. He was betrayed by Hee-joon and made to believe he was the worst kind of human to ever exist by Dong-yoon. More than lonely, he was alienated, ignored and misunderstood.

       (2)


    • 28.3 ramenlee

      Me too, I watched and rewatched again with tears when I see Ki Tae’s face when he trying to mend with his friendship with two friends he thought would care for him and understand him…. Even he heard their denial being his friend he couldn’t bring to explain why it wouldn’t go back what is before….

      Agree, it’s an amazing movie how it brought the storytelling…

       (0)


  29. 29 Ruth

    Thanks for this review. I can already tell that it’s going to be one of those love/cry buckets kinda movies. This was particularly timely as Amazon (U.S.) will be releasing a DVD version with english subs and special features on Jan. 22. As a librarian, I’m going to be adding this to our library’s collection. Maybe more people will develop an appreciation for kstuff through this. You never know.

     (0)


  30. 30 Momi

    I loved bleak night too! I was telling everyone to watch it last year but was surprised it got absolutely no love internationally :( I hope it’s had a bigger release this year so that it can at least get some attention.

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  31. 31 Carole McDonnell

    I’ve been so wanting to see this..for ages…but was kinda fearful of the…bleakness. Thanks for the review. Gotta force myself to see this one.

     (0)


  32. 32 IziEyaNa

    i just finished watching and back reading your review. ITs heartbreaking. How much Kitae loves his friend but being misunderstood. UWaaaa… i need to recover from this.

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  33. 33 hellochloe

    Wow. I love how the colors of the film mirrors the mood – all desaturated and grey :O

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  34. 34 Byul

    that was one beautiful review. i loved the way you played around with the words, finding the exact right ones to describe the emotions although i haven’t watched the movie yet. i definitely will now, thank you:)

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  35. 35 bluehachimitsu

    Glad you did a review for this one =) One of the greatest movie i have ever seen. Lee Je Hoon’s acting is superb..

     (0)


  36. 36 AnotherFan

    What an awesome review! I tried not read before watching the movie first (I’d usually like to form my own opinions and sorta compare the notes later) but I couldn’t help. Peeking the first few lines just completely pulled me in – and so it did till all the way to the end. Such a beautiful narrative – comprehensive, insightful and sets the mood/atmosphere even without the visuals. Masterful!

    I LOVE Lee Je-hoon. Believe it or not, I’ve only seen him in Fashion King. As pathetic as the whole drama and his role was, he somehow managed to win me over about half way through the (or)deal. I can totally see how a twisted and complicated role like this could become such a vehicle for him to shine and showcase his immense talents.

    The movie itself sounds like the kind I would very much enjoy as well. I’ve always remembered those adolescent years – the hopes, the confusions, the first-loves, the inexplicable anger and despair, and those friendships. Indeed, we are never who we are without those past and memories…

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  37. 37 Sajen

    sounds like my kind of movie, must go watch now

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  38. 38 news

    I love this movie so so much. If ever there was a story that can capture youth adolescence in its most heartbreaking and bittersweet moments, this is it.

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  39. 39 MyLincoln

    Amazing Review! If I could give you a grade it’d be A++! 110% -no 200%! I Really enjoyed it. Thanks for the review.

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  40. 40 zzzmadison

    A wonderful piece of review. I love your paragraph about our fragmented memory, so beautifully-phrased!

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  41. 41 dewaanifordrama

    Welll, yet another film to be added to the quickly growing list of movies I have to see…beautiful piece javabeans!

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  42. 42 ajj

    The Korean title of this movie ”The Lookout” is even more fitting than ”Bleak Night” though it’s still a good one considering how bleak the movie seemed.The three bestriends failed to be each other’s lookout, it’s heartbreaking to see them three breaking up. Though things werent explained much even at the end, I kind of get most of it except for Doo yoon’s girlfriend.Dont know if what Ki Tae said was true and if Ki Tae did met up with her and told her about what Doo yon said. It’s a puzzle to me since this is what actually led to why Doo yon said all that to Ki Tae which prompted him to take his own life. I feel bad for Doo yon actually knowing how Ki Tae see him and how dependent Ki Tae is to him emotionally, he must be feeling guilty all throughout his life which totally sucks. Baek hee on the other had some kind of nicer farewell with Ki Tae with that baseball. Ki Tae could be really menacing yes and we’ll never know how much of it was pretendind but he was an endearing friend. He was misguided and tortured by his loneliness and being motherless.If only his two friends did not gave up on him and wished they’d understood him better and guided him more.

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  43. 43 SmileyJetson

    Incredible review and great insight. Bleak Night is a must-watch, even if we don’t relate to the vicious bullying experience, we all relate to broken friendships.

    A little ironic that no matter how much Ki-tae might have hurt Baek-hee and Dong-Yoon, they hurt him so much more. Not excusing his actions at all but really heartbreaking to see how much he cared for them deep down and the price he paid for the power he wanted.

    All in all Bleak Night is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Uncompromising and insightful, very well put together and the characters are meshed out and clash together so well. Not a movie I’ll forget any time soon.

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  44. 44 aim

    watched this coz of your recommendation jb, thanks! i must say the movie although ‘bleak’ gives us an insight of how precious friendship is, what we do to keep them (from ki-tae’s perspective) and its’ power to destroy even our very selves…

    great acting from all the boys in the drama:)

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  45. 45 poolfish1

    Thank you javabeans. I just watched it, and now I’m questioning my ability to recover. God, it’s beautiful.

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  46. 46 Meiyih

    thank you JB for the recap, I will add this in my forever growin watching list but probably wait till end of tis yr … I haven’t recover from Drive … dat movie still make me sad whn I think of it so guess i need more time b4 i get another dark tone movie

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  47. 47 Lucylee

    I read this review when it came out and only recently managed to find a copy of it to watch. All thanks to JB, I watched an unforgettable, thought-provoking movie.

    The review is as beautifully written as the movie. The director did an amazing job of portraying youths at their most confused stage of their lives, finding their identity and longing for acceptance. And the non-linear narrative mworked seamlessly. Most touching scene for me was at the dn, when we saw the scene Dong Yoon told Hee Jun, about him and Ki Tae sitting up in the middle of the night talking. It was a pivotal scene that drew tears from me.

    There are no victims, no victors in this movie. They’re all isolated individuals.

    It’s a great movie and I recommend it highly to anyone who’s contemplating to watch it.

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  48. 48 TenLotus

    Just a stunning review, fitting for an equally stunning film. Really, I was watching it in the middle of the night and the whole elements of the movie and its characters depressed me so much. But all that wasn’t without admiration for the film and Lee Je-hoon. He was the star, magnetic as you said it, and it’s my first time seeing his acting (good thing it wasn’t in Fashion King :)) and he was amazing in his portrayal of a boy grasping and holding on to what he knew best. I simply applaud you for this review and the director who told a story I was struck by. Amazing…one of the best no doubt.

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  49. 49 kikirichan

    at the beginning of the film that isnt becky getting beat up its some random boy I just re watched the beginning 3 times in a row to confirm that, beckys beating is not seen its just presumed with the marks on his face and ki-taes apology

    i love screwed up depressing movies this one was more realistic then screwed up these movies remind you life is shit its amazing the feeling it gives me

    good thing koreans dont think like screwed up americans, americans will give you an excuse for just about anything having no mom is not an excuse to be an erratic sociopath he was not psychopathic he was a sociopath he killed himself the way he should have more people need to do us a favor and do that as well

    i am quite confident i have seen more movies like this than pretty much everyone on this site those movies dont make you feel like that there not moving there revitalizing they make you feel alive not FUCKING sad NOT FUCKING MOVED they make you feel ALIVE

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  50. 50 aly

    i remember crying my heart out as the credits rolled to that song. i lost my old phone and a lot of music with it so hearing this song again brought it all back. i was so sure i had commented back then, guess not.

    javabeans, i remember reading like a few lines of your review when you first posted it, stopping and going to watch it right away. that was how sure i was that i was going to love it. it just seemed to have everything i loved. it has to be one of my most favourite movies of all time. it reminded me so much of my high school days. i saw so much of myself and the mates that i had in high school in those three that it was kind of like i was experiencing it all over again.

    (SPOILER ALERT) it was so frustrating that they did not reveal the truth to his father in the end. i think he deserved that, and it hurt me so much to know that he would never know the truth. even if the truth wasn’t so pretty END SPOILER.

    it’s so funny that you mention school 2013 because at the time i had just finished the drama, and was struggling to recover from it, or find anything as amazing. but then you mentioned how this was similar, but bleaker, and then i just knew i had to watch it.

    the movie also introduced me to lee je hoon. i swear he was absolutely mesmerising in this. like somehow i totally fell for him and felt for him regardless of how messed up he was. i remember crying so much when his mate came to his house and said he had never been his mate. i saw how hard it hit him, and it’s a scene i’ll never forget. he was horrible, i agree completely. but the smaller moments where she shows another side, like when he gives away his baseball even though his mate is leaving him at the time, shows just how much he loved them. i don’t know if i could ever watch it again. i have a beautiful memory of it and i think i like the way it is ingrained in my head. i went on to find lee je hoon in architecture 101 and his role was so subtle that i felt really let down. but i think it’s partly because my expectations have become so high after watching him in this

    anyway, thank you so much for introducing this movie to me.. and thank you for this beautiful review. i have a feeling i’ll be visiting and rereading this whenever i miss the movie too much :)

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