White Night (2012)

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A couple of weeks ago the BFI Lesbian & Gay Film Festival (LLGFF) was on on London’s Southbank and due to a tight schedule the only film available to book was White Night, or Baek Ya in Korean. Really we wanted to see Petunia by Ash Christian but unfortunately it was fully booked. Maybe we should have taken this has a sign, but being interested in South Korea and world cinema we decided to give this a go. It turns out White Night was awful. Directed by Leesong Hee-il, one of South Korea’s foremost queer directors, this film is part of a trilogy. To be honest, I am not even sure where or how it went wrong. Yes, there were some beautiful shots of what I could only assume was Seoul. The main characters were attractive and in the background there was a tragic story of homophobia in South Korea, which is what has made Won-Gyu, the returning flight attendant and central protagonist, the cold and deeply unemotional person that he is. I have never seen a character that is so difficult to relate to or to empathise with. This could be where it went wrong – Won-Gyu was such a horrible character that often answered questions with silence and as a result it is difficult to watch and can be difficult to follow. I am intrigued as to the quality of the subtitles as I somehow feel that something was maybe lost in translation.

Attending the Festival really made me feel that it is high time something changes in queer cinema, it can be so predictable and stereotyped – the characters are always damaged, drug users who can’t let anyone in, and while I realise that this is sometimes necessary and an indictment of the homophobia in our society it would be nice to have something either hard hitting but interesting or something lighthearted – Loose Cannons comes to mind. I have seen some very good queer cinema over the last couple of years but unfortunately this falls into the same category as Coming Out and Keep the Lights On

(I do not own this image)

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