Korean Cultural Service Presents: White Night
(trailer here) makes its North American debut tomorrow as the latest free screening sponsored by the Korean Cultural Service in New York.
Kim Yo-han’s father and Lee Jia’s mother were thought to be carrying on rather openly. When the senior Lee turns up murdered, she becomes the logical suspect. There are a lot of incriminating circumstances, but little hard evidence. When Lee’s mother apparently commits suicide, the case is conveniently closed. However, Detective Han Doong-soo cannot let it lay.
Over the next two decades, the three go in seemingly disparate directions. Han’s career flatlines after the accidental death of his son. Conversely, Lee Jia overcomes the stigma of her infamous mother, with the help of a name change. Now known as Yoo Mi-ho, she is poised to marry a very wealthy man. Kim more or less disappears into anonymity, but he secretly acts as Lee/Yoo’s guardian angel. Anyone threatening her advancement will answer to him.
In both films, Higashino’s two lead characters really have a way of getting into your head. Yoshihiro Fukagawa’s Into the White Night invests more time up front on their traumatic childhood, which pays greater dividends later in the film. It also more fully explains the complex circumstances of the original crime. On the other hand, Park’s version plays up the sex and scandal, making it considerably more accessible to general audiences.
White Night features a strong ensemble, but Go Soo might just take the honors over his Japanese counterpart as the adult Kim Yo-han. It is an intense performance, viscerally projecting his pain and ferocity in equal measure. While her character is icier and less vulnerable here (by design), Son Ye-jin is undeniably a striking and rather nuanced femme fatale (much as she was in the stylistically similar Open City). Indeed, her limited screen time with (or near) Go Soo is powerfully potent stuff.