Started in 2007 to keep a track of gay films that I watched, this blog has come much further than I had planned. There are tons of movies that I need to watch and review here. Through this blog, I want to give you genuine, my personal heart-felt review of the films that I see. These are my personal thoughts and opinions about the films and I would love to hear your thoughts on these films as well. I always reply to comments in a day or two. Please help me make my blog more popular by becoming a member, following it and by recommending it to your friends. As far as I know this is one of the very very few gay movie review blogs where reviews are not linked or copy-paste imdb summary. Enjoy and do keep writing your feedback.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Spa Night (Korean/English)

I struggled a bit with the film for two reasons: One, whether this film truly belongs the LGBT genre and second, related to the first is what is the point and message that is being tried to made. I am not by any means saying that its  abad or a confused film. I feel, for viewer like me who wants (or rather prefers) a clear distinction between queer cinema and otherwise gets confused when served with something like this. This film may be promoted as a film about a Korean teenager discovering his sexuality but it is actually a broader story of being a first-generation Korean- American, sense of tradition and responsibility for the family and everything that come with it.

We meet a Korean family based in LA. David, a young 18-ish boy uses most of his time helping out his mom and dad running their restaurant. The parents have dreams of him studying hard and making something more successful out of himself but clearly David is not very good at studies. The times are tough and the family is forced to give up the restaurant and this is where all the troubles begin. The parents force him to take tutorial classes to prepare for SAT while the relation between the mom-dad is deteriorating. The mother find a a job of a waitress but the father is too busy drinking himself and feeling sorry for being a failure for himself and his family. In the process we also see that David has been trying to find an identity for himself. So far he had the comfort of his parents and the restaurant but now he needs to look out for himself. David find s a job at a Korean spa to help his family but the spa has more to offer than David imagined. He witnesses a sensual world of naked men and also sometimes men trying different things with each other sexually. He notices glances and feels some sort of sexual pleasure by just watching but too careful to not ever indulge in any of those activities. David struggles with his own sexuality a few times in the spa and its hard for him to manage the ‘upstairs’ room and keep a check on it because ‘gay makeout sessions’ happen there time to time. With the family relationship deteriorating and him questioning and coming to terms with his own sexual identity, David has to figure out a way to accommodate his orientation and his position as the only child of Korean immigrants in US.

The biggest problem for me was the super slow pace of the film. As much as I can appreciate the build up and subtle nuances of the dynamics of a Korean immigrant family, the film is not an easy watch watch. It is one of those films that is generally enjoyed for cinema lovers who are looking for something different. There are hints of various things and events and many things are never clearly explained, which personally made it hard for me to fully connect all the dots. I fully empathised with David’s struggle to find a balance between doing the right for the family but also finding an identity for himself and letting himself free. He has Korean values but will he be able to give the up to adopt a more American approach to life? The film raises all of these issues but sadly never resolves any of the. We really don’t know what will happen with David and it seems that he is just going to let life happen. And hence despite excellent performances by all 3 lead characters, it does make for a little bit of unsatisfying movie experience.

Maybe the film was touted as being that special something, but trying to keep everything subtle and refraining themselves; the film makers leave this film as a bit of disappointment for most of us. (4.5/10)

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