The Movie Waffler Glasgow Film Festival 2021 Review - OUR MIDNIGHT | The Movie Waffler

Glasgow Film Festival 2021 Review - OUR MIDNIGHT

our midnight review
A struggling actor bonds with a troubled office worker.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Lim Jung-eun

Starring: Lee Seung-hun, Park Seo-eun, Lim Young-woo

Drawing heavily on the "walk and talk" format of '90s American indies - along with a dash of the comic melancholy of her compatriot Hong Sang-soo and a smidgeon of Truffaut's Antoine Doinel series - is writer/director Lim Jung-eun with her hazy yet charming feature debut Our Midnight.

Shot in crisp black and white, the film sees two disparate souls brought together by fate. Struggling actor Ji-hoon (Lee Seung-hun) lives a happy go lucky existence, content to struggle financially if it means he gets to follow his dreams. His girlfriend makes more in a month than he brings in a year, and the strain of this economic dynamic finally snaps, leaving Ji-hoon single. Possibly with the ultimate goal of winning her back, Ji-hoon accepts a job which sees him patrolling notorious suicide hotspots at night with the intention of talking down anyone who appears ready to take a leap off a bridge.

our midnight review

This brings him into contact with Eun-yeong (Park Seo-eun), whom he finds in a teary state on one such infamous bridge. Whether or not Eun-yeong is planning to jump is unclear, but she faints in the presence of Ji-hoon, who takes her to a hospital. The following night, Ji-hoon finds Eun-yeong at the same spot, and the two strike up a conversation, spending the night roaming the empty streets of Seoul together.

Much of what follows resembles a Korean take on Before Sunrise, as Ji-hoon and Eun-yeong bond over the course of a couple of nights in each other's company. The dialogue is more naturalistic than that found in Linklater's film, with our protagonists here engaging in relatably mundane discussions. Ji-hoon employs his acting skills to coax Eun-yeong into verbalising her woes, and we learn that she is in danger of being fired after reporting a work colleague for an assault while they were dating, something forbidden by her employers.

our midnight review

As the breezy Ji-hoon and the insular yet adorable Eun-yeong, Lee and Park make for an engaging couple, and while any potential romance is left ambiguous, we're rooting for two souls who feel left behind by a world that places more value on material gains than on happiness and personal contentment.

Our Midnight has the slapdash feel of a very accomplished student film. That's part of its innocent charm, but its shabby storytelling can be frustrating in parts. Perhaps this is my cultural ignorance showing, but I couldn't quite wrap my head around why Ji-hoon's employer (Lim Young-woo) was so concerned with preventing suicides. I'm assuming it's for some sort of corporate reason rather any sort of altruism, but the movie never elaborates on this. Perhaps it's something Korean audiences will automatically understand, but for the rest of us it's a bit of a head-scratcher.

our midnight review

While her storytelling skills may require honing over future features, Lim Jung-eun proves with her debut that she may eventually prove the successor to Hong Sang-soo. Like that Korean master, she appears to possess the ability to create characters so identifiably human that we sense they might continue to exist after the credits have rolled.

Our Midnight
 plays online at the Glasgow Film Festival from March 4th to 7th.

2021 movie reviews