SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2022 REVIEW! Writer-director Bang Seung Hyeon’s Goodafternoon Sweetdream is a sedate drama about grief that’s purposeful in its lack of movement, figuratively and literally. Following her father’s death, Ye Won (Son Yewon) relishes the company of her good friend (Bang Seung Hyeon). The film opens with them sitting on the pavement of a basketball court. They discuss the nature of relationships, the secrets of the universe, and the flowery scent of an attractive passerby.
But then the conversation takes a more serious turn as Ye Won mentions her father. Her father loved to run, yet his healthier proclivities didn’t take away from the fact he suffered from a heart condition. That’s the first vignette out of four. The following segments still document conversations between Ye Won and Seung Hyeon’s character, but the circumstances, as well as the locations, are visibly different.
“Following her father’s death, Ye Won relishes the company of her good friend…”
Goodafternoon Sweetdream moves at a measured pace, helping to exhibit the tranquility and naturalistic freedom of the friends’ interactions. Son Yewon and Bang Seung Hyeon have natural chemistry. Son Yewon works from a script that explores the complexities of communication and grief. When should Ye Won open up about her feelings? Should she deal with those feelings by herself before deciding to talk to someone? It’s natural to feel averse to communicating, let alone confronting grief on your time.
Strangely yet not surprisingly, Seung Hyeon treats every brief account as a dream, perhaps imagined by a grieving Ye Won. The possibility that everything is a dream allows for some interpretation regarding the presence of Seung Hyeon’s character. The way that the filmmaker sets up every vignette is transfixing. She applies static shots of the characters as they spill their guts at a basketball court or a funeral. The stillness of every scene encapsulates the power of grief as it often prevents someone from moving forward. The black and white photography draws attention to the bleaker undertones of the anecdotes. While Ye Won and Seung Hyson regularly talk about crushes and failed relationships, Ye Won’s sadness is conveyed subtly by Son Yewon. Her acting in the scene involving a panic attack is particularly memorable.
Goodafternoon Sweetdream is quiet and mournful. The inevitability of death and illness are major themes throughout. There’s almost a bittersweet quality to grief, as blissful memories of a deceased loved one can sometimes alleviate the pain of having lost them. There is also an interesting topic to discuss when it comes to the reliability of memories and the reason we remember a moment in time differently. Overall, the filmmaker struggles to make full use of the interpretative aspects of this exquisitely human story. However, there’s a sense of understated warmth, as fully envisioned by the haunting final shot.
Goodafternoon Sweetdream screened at the 2022 Slamdance Film Festival.
"…there’s a sense of understated warmth..."