THE FIRST LAP
Directed by Kim Dae-hwan
Best Emerging Director, 2017 Locarno Film Festival
Official Selection, 2017 Jeonju International Film Festival
Official Selection, 2017 Vancouver International Film Festival
Su-hyeon and Ji-young have been dating for seven years, but are no closer to getting married than the day they met. This fact is not lost on their frustrated parents, who want the young couple to clarify future plans and move forward in life. During two incredibly uncomfortable dinner parties, the tension between these forces grows so great that parents and children refuse to share the same airspace.
Set amid the candlelight protests against disgraced President Park Geun-hye, THE FIRST LAP paints modern South Korea as a nation engulfed by anxiety. Yet the lead characters seem oblivious to the turmoil; they are too busy sinking deeper into a shared sense of delusion from being overwhelmed by uncertainty and antiquated social graces.
At times, Su-hyeon and Ji-young are unable to muster even the slightest answer to age-old questions about major life transitions. But director Kim Dae-hwan doesn’t see this as a damnable sin, instead leaving narrative space for comedy, absurdity, and most importantly, genuine tenderness. All of these elements are present during a nearly 10-minute long take that beautifully traverses the ebb and flow of an epic argument.
THE FIRST LAP may intimately fixate on crippling familial patterns that feel all too familiar, but it never loses faith in its complex characters, wisely giving them enough space to calm down and begin what comes next. –Glenn Heath, Jr.