New for me
Even a modest crime drama is usually intense and often gritty. I've noticed that Korean crime dramas often tend to be quite intense and gritty from the moment I watched my first, Beat. So, it's no surprise that Korean indie crime drama, A Good Night Sleep for the Bad has its share of intensity and grit, with a bleak crapsack world. Speeding along at under ninety minutes, A Good Night Sleep for the Bad (aka The Bad Sleep Well, named after the Kurosawa movie) keeps it tale of hoodlums short and simple, which I think helps it to overcome its limited characters and story.
In A Good Night Sleep for the Bad, things are hard for Yoonsung (Kim Heungsoo). His part-time job at the gas station isn't even covering the interest payments on his imprisoned father's debts. His sister Haekyung (Ahn Jo) desperately wants to become a singer-actress at all costs. Yoon wants to get himself and his siblings away from his father's mess and to Canada, but that costs a lot of money and, as he notes, he doesn't have the patience to make that money the right way. So he resorts to theft and robbery with some cohorts and a criminal financier/porn director. However, when one of his father's associates offers him a little money and the opportunity to gamble for more, Yoonsung finds himself in a more desperate situation then he could have predicted.
One of things I can appreciate about this little crime drama is that it builds its situations well and Yoonsung's tendency to make hasty decisions is established, but despite the terrible things he does, he at least does it for a good reason. And while there are some clear villains in the film, I like that Yoonsung ends up putting himself in conflict with people that aren't really villains to him. On the other hand, there is a minor story logic flaw in why Yoonsung doesn't go after his "uncle" when things become desperate. But even that is somewhat addressed, giving the plot solid consistency and, even if the characters aren't particularly likable, they are believable. There's also a mild touch of dark comedy of the Korean sort in this film. There is one moment of dramatic irony that drives the final act of the film that's also just a little too unsubtle, but that's the only moment.
The film is clearly an indie film, with the production values to match that descriptor, but writer-director Kwon Youngchul makes the best of it and manages to pull of some decent shots here and there although the film does have its share of humdrum settings and dressings. The actors, for the most part, perform their roles well. The editing keeps the film pretty snappy, although the film does indulge in some limited characterization that isn't followed up upon.
I think the film's saving grace is simply that it's short and to the point. It keeps the plot from meandering and the audience focused on the fairly well woven story of descent into crime. It is a bleak film, one that gets darker and darker as the film progresses, so that might be a bit much for casual audiences, but it fits well within the parameters of crime dramas as a result. But as far as an indie crime drama goes, I think it shows promise by the writer-director. 7/10.