Friday, 16 December 2016

REVIEW - SPA NIGHT (ANDREW AHN)


The outcast experience, one of suffocating insularity and terrifying vulnerability. Andrew Ahn charts the emotional effects of the process of establishing one's own identity, within cultural frameworks that offer a surfeit of guidance, yet a deficit of assistance. Tentative motions yield meagre rewards, though can accrue into monumental encounters; running into the unknown can yield expectedly unknown rewards, and unknown they shall remain. Spa Night is itself too tentative to truly examine its specific outcast experience, that of a first generation immigrant family, and that of a young man caught between duelling societal forces, and the additional, irrepressible urges of his own, blossoming identity. Ahn understands his milieu, and communicates it smartly in scenes of verbal exchanges, and in scenes of silent yet significant physical exchanges. He's no auteur - not yet, at least - since one can hardly attribute the artistic scheme of Spa Night to Ahn any more than one can to the real authors of the styles upon which he draws. But he does have a singular perspective, and a definite talent for presenting that perspective in concise, incisive terms. Like his protagonist, Ahn values a sympathetic, measured approach over boldness right up to the film's final developments, when he engages in his first proper leap of faith. In doing so, not only does Ahn expand his horizons, and those of his protag, he thereby also precludes the potential hermeticism of the film, emphasizing the reality of the experience on display. Night bolts forth into a fresh, frightening day, whose rewards are frighteningly unknown.