TrustMovies can remember, we haven't had all that many films that dealt with Korean culture in Los Angeles -- which makes SPA NIGHT, the first full-length features from Andrew Ahn, something of a novelty. And this writer/ director's way with Korean-American culture and tradition results in a movie that, though it goes only a step or two toward any of the goals pursued or hoped for by its three-member family of leading characters, still manages to hold -- via its specificity and fluidity -- our interest and caring.
Joe Seo (on poster, top, and above and below) with a quiet control that is slowly being pierced by his family's expectations, as well as his own sexual needs, is unsure of his proper place in life. Mom and Dad expect him to go to college, but then a sudden downturn in the family's fortunes changes everything. Dad has known about this for some time, but he lies by omission, as does mom, in more outright fashion, in order to save face -- another time-honored Asian (and for that matter, western) tradition.
Strand Releasing, in both English and Korean-with-English-subtitles, and running 97 minutes -- opens this Friday, August 19, in New York City, exclusively at the new Metrograph theater. On the following Friday, August 26, the film opens in Los Angeles at the Sundance Sunset 5, after which a limited nationwide release is expected. To see all currently scheduled playdates, with cities and theaters listed, click here, then click Screenings on the task bar halfway down the page.