Spa Night

Coming out as queer is always a difficult process, as is making an interesting movie about coming out in 2016, but Andrew Ahn’s meditative Spa Night pulls it off. David (Joe Seo) is an 18-year-old Korean-American living in Los Angeles with his struggling restauranteur parents Jin (Youn Ho Cho) and Soyoung (Haerry Kim). He feels stifled both by their expectation for him to go to a good college — made all the more difficult by poor grades, due to working to help keep his family afloat — as well as by his own burgeoning and culturally forbidden homosexuality. That inexpressible aspect becomes even more difficult to suppress when he gets a job in a sweaty spa full of sweaty men, the kind of clandestine, old-school cruising spot with signs reading “If You Are Caught Engaging in Inappropriate Activity, We Will Call the Authorities!” Spa Night is as much about the well-drawn dynamics of Joe’s family as his own coming out — or, more accurately, coming to terms with his sexuality. First-time director Ahn has a remarkably assured visual sense; the camera loves the male body as much as David does, and Spa Night is a largely subjective experience that could have told its story without words. Like this week’s Cameraperson, it’s a work of pure cinema.

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