REC (Korea: 2011): The night belonged to them



The trailer I found actually isn’t very helpful to understanding REC, Joon-moon So’s 2011 short film about two men on their fifth anniversary. Young-joon (Sam-dong Song) and Joon-seok (Hye-hun Jo) have rented a hotel room and in their own little world, make a video recording of their night. They joke that in gay-relationship years, one year equals ten years of heterosexual marriage, so in a sense, they have outlasted most marriages. In the first half of the movie, they are happy, a little too playful, even. Beyond a record of their sexual encounter, they interview each other about their feelings. Joon-seok’s disappointment with his partner is that he never gives in for choices of restaurants and movies, a fairly common complaint for all couples. His biggest fear however comes from the fact that even after five years, Young-joon still believes that this relationship is only temporary. That offhand joke about gay relationship equivalent years isn’t actually so funny in that context.

Young-joon awakes early the next morning and departs for the last time, leaving behind a final note, as he had planned to all along. He is 30 and it is time for him to get married. The video for him will be a reminder of their time together, but that will be all they are left with. They are both sad, of course, like most lovers are in a tagelied. Joon-seok appears resigned to this parting in the morning. Yes, there are tears, but its not as if he hadn’t been warned over the years about the end. Young-joon probably thinks it is best not to draw things out to the point where they would be even more painful. Obviously, this doesn’t approach Just Friends in terms of fantasy happy endings for short Korean gay films. But it probably more accurately captures the dynamics of relationships in Korea at the present time, which can end without much recourse or response from anyone.

Since the movie is about the shooting of a memento, the camera work is largely unedited and appears to be shot by the actors themselves until late in the film when the in-room video camera is shut off and the production crew takes over. It is like watching someone’s home movie. Unlike a vacation film, everyone appears to be genuinely happy – since they run through a range of emotions in which happiness is one possibility, when it appears it seems genuine. The actors aren’t standing around smiling and saying “cheese” because a camera is rolling and then at each other’s throat when the camera is off.

I liked the film, but not enough to recommend it unconditionally or hope that it is expanded to a feature. While it is sad, it isn’t tragically so. Since both characters seem to accept the situation, we’re not inclined to push them further.


One thought on “REC (Korea: 2011): The night belonged to them

  1. I better watch REC again. I watched it last time having only the sex part in mind. ha ha ha.. Never quite thought about what the story was really about. Thanks, Peale.


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