Sleepless Night

Sleepless Night
Directed by Jang Kun-jae
Starring Kim Soo-hyun, Kim Joo-ryoung

Sleepless Night comes to us from first time director Jang Kun-jae. A subtle, quiet indie film, it focuses on the relationship between a newly married couple, and the pressures they face both financially and emotionally: their parents want them to have children, the desire to make extra cash is causing them to spend more time apart and – to top it all off – their bike gets stolen.

It makes for slow, yet sweet viewing. Making extensive use of long, holding shots, much emphasis is made on establishing the couples relationship without words. They wash dishes, go for walks, eat dinner – often without dialogue. But thanks to nuanced performances from leads Kim Soo-hyn and Kim Joo-ryoung, a casual, believable intimacy is conveyed.

There is a great economy of language in Sleepless Night, and – at only sixty-five minutes in duration – a great economy of time, too.

This is a slight film then, both in length but also – sadly – in strength of meaning. While a small triumph of realism, the question lingers, in the aftermath, of what all this gentle pathos ultimately means. It’s quiet, too quiet; a slow burn of comfortable domestic romance fraying at the edges, building to a confrontation that is less a gut punch as a gentle tickle, disappointingly divorced from much of what had gone on before.

But there is plenty here to recommend. While it’s unable to find anything truly new to say, the familiar portrait it paints is nonetheless a fine one; a snapshot of the moment when simple romance is first tested by the strains of its own looming future. A universal story, one we can all share, told with a deft touch.


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