The New York Asian Film Festival highlights another movie that went home with some of the 22nd Busan Film Festival’s awards. It could be argued that it is because the movie got hyped, with the main male lead, Park Jong-Hwan, winning the actor of the year’s award and Jeong Ga-Young winning the Vision Director’s Award; or with the 2017 feature being shown at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. But that would be a total misconception. The movie deserves to be shown to the wider audience possible.
The feature starts off with two characters entering a bar. We then understand that Ga-young, the filmmaker’s persona, is paying Jin-Hyeok to tell her about his life and help her find inspiration for her next movie script. Or at least that is the official version. “Hit the Night” then follows the duo in their meetings. Their conversation is crude, nothing is filtered. The relationship slowly evolves and we get to know a bit more about the female lead.
It seems that most critics understood the movie as an attempt of Ga-Young to get closer to Jin-Hyeok, whom she met previously at a party. However, it is never clearly stated; and it is more interesting to understand it as circumstances that make the two characters meet. Because that is what the movie is about: two people who meet (in pretty unique circumstances), who talk about very personal topics and develop a bond that keeps on growing. It could also be seen as a glimpse into the life of a 25-something girl, who seems a bit lost and stuck, as much in her work as in her life.
Park Jong-Hwan deserved his award, with a flawless acting. However, his character would not be as interesting if it weren’t for the filmmaker’s character. Jeong Ga-Young offers an intense performance, where the fictional Ga-Young is touching and nuanced. That makes her easy to relate to. What makes the pair so fascinating- after all, the movie is mostly one hour and a half of the two talking about sex, life, movies while drinking- is their dynamic and connection. This is made possible only because of the outstanding acting performances, the well-rounded scenario, the fluidity of Sun Jong-Hoon camera and the natural editing of Eom Yun-Ju.
The parallel between Hong Sang-Soo’s work and “Hit the Night” can easily be made. The feature is aimed at a more ‘arthouse’ audience. The pace is slow, the light is natural, they are not many close-ups and almost no music is used. The content also reminded me of the 57 years old director’s movies. There is a lot of drinking involved, a lot of talking about sex and cinema too and it is, among other things, about thwarted love. However, the personal touch of Jeong Ga-Young emerges and the director will surely grow bigger in the years to come. Finally, it is interesting to watch a movie about a woman and made by a woman.
“Hit the Night”, however aimed at a more arthouse audience, is a very good movie. The director’s next work can definitely be highly expected!