Korean Film Festival 2016 Review: Two Rooms, Two Nights (South Korea, 2016)

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Meanings and metaphors abound in Two Rooms, Two Nights about a handsome film director and his past and present loves.

This handsome film director is In-Sung (Kim Jae Wook) who is currently secretly dating screenwriter Yoon-Joo (Chae Jun-An). Their relationship is a secret for professional reasons, as they are scheduled to work on an upcoming project together. That’s the first of the secrets we are introduced to in Two Rooms, Two Nights.

The second comes in the form of Mi-Na (Park Gyulee), an ex-girlfriend of In-Sung whom he is meeting in the beautiful Gangneung, Gangwon Province, in order to show her around local areas and customs. Mi-Na is a reporter and the two met whilst doing an interview, however this time Mi-Na is writing a special on the Province and seems uninterested in rekindling a relationship with In-Sung. She is Korean, but has lived in Japan her whole life so only speaks Japanese.

They stay at this incredible Joseon-era residence that has been turned into individual room stays. The set and scenery around the film is really stunning, with its homely restaurants and cafes and culturally rich streets, and it really makes you want to visit there yourself.

As our story progresses we are (somewhat confusedly) jumped around in time to understand the relationships. I say confusedly as the jump happens so smoothly that you’re not sure whether you’re quite in the past or back in the future sometimes. It helps in coming to understand In-Sung’s uncommitted character though, as later described very accurately as “light as a feather, blown in the smallest wind”.

Drama eventually arises when both women end up at the residence and In-Sung seems in capable at dealing with anything. Prone to running away, his character often uses eating as way to avoid situations. Mmm eating.

The “drama” however is not big or dramatic. It unfolds as calmly as the rest of the film does. Yoon-Joo and Mi-Na, unlike In-Sung, are very satisfyingly self-assured throughout the film, Mi-Na slightly more so in the present moments. They also seem to have a much better handle on In-Sung’s character than he does himself.

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They evaluate love for him as something addicting, like a cigarette- and that In-Sung can’t quit either. That he believes there are multiple rooms in his heart, and that each contains a different version of himself who loves differently. That his own definition of an ideal relationship is to each have their own lives and merely share what they can. Like I said- metaphors and meanings abound.

The one metaphor I didn’t get though was the locks. Perhaps someone else will be able to “unlock” that one for me?

Review Score: THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Two Rooms, Two Nights is being shown as part of the Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA). It will screen next in Brisbane on the 29th August and Melbourne on the 7th of September.

For more information and ticketing visit koffia.com.au