The South Korean film ‘A Quiet Dream’ focuses on a young Chinese-born woman, Ye-ri (Han Ye-ri), who runs a bar in Seoul and takes care of her comatose, paralysed father. Ye-ri's mundane existence is punctuated by the presence of three losers who frequent the bar, trying without much success to win her heart: Jongbin (Yoon Jong-bin), a milk-drinking epileptic, Ikjune (Yang Ik-june), a nonchalant former petty criminal and the introverted Jungbum (Park Jung-bum), who fled from North Korea.
One day, Ye-ri (who reads classical Korean literature, recites Chinese poetry and watches arthouse cinema) asks what they dreamed last night. While each of them tells their nightmares, Ye-ri tells them she dreamt she was making love to each of them.
This strange trio's interactions with Ye-ri offer many one-liners and funny moments, as the men compete ineffectually for the woman's attention and tease each other good-naturedly. There's also a nameless football-playing tomboy (Lee Joo-yeong), a poetry-writing sentimentalist at heart who is also keen on Ye-ri.
Korean-Chinese director Zhang Lu (‘Grain in Ear’, ‘Dooman River’) takes an affectionate look at his handful of eccentrics living hardscrabble in Seoul. The main cast delivers with thoroughly effective turns - interestingly, the actors playing the three main suitors are all award-winning directors riffing on characters from their previous films - bringing Zhang's playfully philosophical screenplay to life. The film is also artfully shot in black-and-white, complemented by Cho Young-jik's clean camerawork and Lee Hak-min's precise editing.
Some mild touches of fantasy contribute to a mood of dreamy melancholy in this quirky, bittersweet and rather beautiful urban comedy.