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)