The current internet debate about Scorsese and Coppola vs Marvel present the opposite of Sophie’s Choice; surely there have to be more alternatives? Film festivals provide something fresh and new if you don’t fancy well-worn paths, and the London Korean Film festival, which tours the UK through November, provides exactly that, with Scattered Night a good example of the kind of fare that’s worth making the effort to see.
Directed by Lee Jihyoung and Kim Sol, Scattered Night is a delicate and thoughtful examination of a family on the edge of breaking apart, seen through the eyes of precocious ten year old Su-min (Moon Seunga). Together with her brother Jin-ho (Choi Joonwoo), Su-min is asked to chose whether to live with her mother or her father, a genuine dilemma for a young girl. Of course, Su-min would rather that the family stayed together, but there’s little sign of reconciliation between her well-meaning parents.
Sensation-seekers need not apply to a film like Scattered Night, which finds nuggets of truth in such uncontrived scenes as a birthday party, or Su-min diligently doing her English homework while her mother does her nails. The final act raises the stakes, but without contrivance; Scattered Night doesn’t attempt to manipulate the audience, but invites them to see things through Su-min’s naïve and yet worldly eyes.
Despite a decent festival run, Scattered Night is a hard sell in that divorce is a subject that doesn’t promise much cinematic pleasure. But there is considerable reward in a subtle film like this, which appeals to the heart but without attempting to force any issues, a la Eighth Grade. The sun-drenched South Korean locations add to a sense of richly evoked yet simple childhood, and Moon Seunga’s performance has been elicited with care. For anyone whose ideas about cinema don’t hark back to male-marketed IP from forty years ago, selecting and locating a showing of Scattered Night is an informed choice worth making, and should find a few admirers outside of urban areas when it eventually debuts on streaming services.
The London Korean Film Festival runs from 1st-14th November in London before embarking on the annual UK tour 18th-24th November. The festival tours to: Edinburgh Film House, Watershed Cinema Bristol, Belfast Queen’s Film Theatre, Glasgow Film Theatre, Manchester HOME, Nottingham Broadway Cinema, until 24th November 2019. Further details at http://koreanfilm.co.uk/