BAMcinemaFest, the city’s premiere indie film showcase, continues through Sunday, June 26. Here, BK Mag film critic Kenji Fujishima offers up his picks for the second week and closing weekend. All blurbs by Kenji Fujishima.
Directed by Andrew Ahn
For a film about a young closeted gay Korean-American man who discovers forbidden pleasures at a spa he works at, Spa Night is a surprisingly subdued and detached affair. But perhaps the relative stylistic discreetness of writer-director Ahn’s debut feature is necessary for richer character and cultural portraits to emerge. Certainly, it’s rare to see the Asian-American experience—with David Cho (Joe Seo) torn between his filial piety toward his struggling immigrant parents and his desire to see the world—rendered with such sharp eye for details and acute understanding as it is here. Such culturally specific details enhance its standard coming-of-age arc, as does Seo’s impressively internalized performance as 18-year-old David. Exuding repression to his core, and seemingly uncomfortable in his own bulk, David is, on a broader level, unsure of himself and his direction in life, as ambivalent about college as about his own sexuality. True to Ahn’s subtle form, however, Spa Night builds up not so much to an explosive confrontation as to a brief taste of the wild side—a personal consummation that may or may not have a profound impact on his future. Screens June 20, 7pm; Q&A with Ahn follows. Strand Releasing will release the film theatrically.