Sleepless Night ★★★½

Jang Kun-jae's debut Eighteen had a reasonably stunning first shot: a motorcyclist pulls into a gas station, fills up, and then rides out as the previously static camera begins traveling backwards ahead of him, adjusting to sudden motion while maintaining casual compositional poise. The rest was handheld-rough and performance-centric, a teen love story that's appropriately volatile and unstable while trained on a girl who's alternately withdrawn and devoted and a boy who's brattily self-possessed and needlessly irritable, with loud (crying/wailing/gnashing of teeth) interjections from two sets of equally appalling parents.

Sleepless Night inverts the first film's obstacles (a couple that can only defeat itself - at least at first glance - rather than one defined by its opposition to authority) and aesthetic, immediately announcing itself as a conventionally well-composed film. There's one notable exception/disruption in which the husband, asking to be paid for his extra Sunday hours, understandably loses it and starts screaming at the boss who has the nerve to sneer "So you can only work if you're paid?" This suddenly quiet movie blows up, the atmospheric background sounds of rain crescendoing to full thunderstorm and the camera quivering with empathetic rage. That thunderstorm seems too blunt/on-the-nose, but it turns out the whole thing's been a dream.

There's one other casual rugpull like this in Eighteen. I always get a bit frustrated by movies actively courting the designation "deceptively modest," but Sleepless Night eventually reveals its secret strangeness. While the totally convincing portrait of a couple's specific domestic rhythms (and ability to dually resist pressure to have kids/succumb to the cruddiness of their work prospects) is impressive, mild moments of dream disorientation help skirt the potential smugness of the Here Is My Truth Is It Yours? approach.