Night and Day” (“Bam gua nat”)
Lost in Paris
Do we ever consider traveling as an emotional experience? After seeing “Night and Day”, we realize that emotions play a large role in our travels. Seong-nam Kim is a forty something artist who lives in Paris and paints landscapes and enjoys marijuana. It was marijuana that caused the move from Korea to Paris getting stoned with American tourists as one of the people he smoked with mentioned his name. The movie is a day by day look at his life in France. He is somewhat good looking but does not take pride in his appearance yet he is adept at sex with women. He never bothered to learn French and this hinders his interaction with others.
Seong lives in a hostel run by another Korean, an older man, Mr. Jang and he receives comfort from that. He hangs out with other Koreans there and they pass their time by reading the Bible and he takes it as just a book of stories. He meets Min-sun who he lusts for not realizing at first that they had once had a passionate affair in Korea. She married a Frenchman and even though she is not happy that she is not remembered, she does speak with Seong. However, she is not ready to have sex with him. Seong has a wife in Korea who wants to come to be with him.
Jang introduces Seong to Hyun-ju, an art students but he prefers her roommate, Yu-jung. He is able to seduce her and they go away together. Eventually everything comes to a head and he returns to his wife and Korea.
You are probably thinking what I thought as I watched the move—so, where is all of this taking us? The film seems to be going nowhere and not saying very much. It seems to me that the point is that as we live our “regular” lives; something can happen that takes everything from us and when that does happen, what is left? Seong’s sojourn in Paris did little to change him yet it was something that he had to do. The film is certainly not going to be a blockbuster and I doubt that it will gain a following. We see Korea differently—in fact we see it as Seong remembers it and then how it is when he returns. Seong is a fool with pretenses and the film is important as a self-reflexive travelogue and looks at the chaos of freedom and how Seong is indifferent to that chaos.