I have been wanting to see ‘Spa Night’ for a while now, as I have heard a lot of great things about it when it was shown at Outfest in Los Angeles last year. Finally, I have and it was worth the wait. Directed by Andrew Ahn, this film tells the story of David (Jo Seo) as an eighteen year old closeted Korean-American son of immigrants in modern day Los Angeles, specifically in the Koreatown area. In the beginning of the movie, we see him helping out in his family restaurant. But they lose the business. That’s about it for plot, but the movie is a lot more than that – it’s a study of how the American Dream can pull a family apart, it;’s about a young man trapped in his own desires. The film is a coming of age movie that explores the lament of melancholy.
the film is an interesting watch, visually. It is kind of sparse, dialogue-wise, but no way do we feel cut short by it. After the family loses the restaurant, he becomes the default ‘saving grace’ of the family, pressured into taking the SATs so he could get in University of Southern California. He knows he isn’t equipped for that type of life. At the same time, he starts working at an all-male spa, and he sees all the shenanigans going on there, and he desperately wants to join as he is told to police them. Seo is fantastic in the role, essaying the desperation, the inner desire of David so convincingly. Though if I may be a little honest, it does seem kind of weird for the character David to be so gay-sheltered, as Koreatown in Los Angeles is not that far from West Hollywood, the gay mecca capital of the city. Surely he has had other interactions with gay people in such a gay-centric town.
This film might seem like it is only for the lonely, but I bet it will touch everyone.