Tilted Summer is a short Korean BL movie about a couple on their anniversary trip. When their vacation plans go awry, they must spend an uncomfortable evening at a hostel instead. Tensions rise between the leads as they clash over their new surroundings. Their relationship becomes more and more strained throughout the night, almost reaching its breaking point.
I don't think Tilted Summer will appeal to most BL fans. Contrary to the conventional romance, this short film depicts a feuding couple in an unflattering light. A part of me likes that it goes against the grain and tells a different kind of story than the usual formula. Ultimately, the indie movie stumbles and fails to convey poignant relationship melodrama.
Tilted Summer Summary
Around 23 minutes
Sad and bittersweet
Yes, there is a BL couple
Juno and Minjae are boyfriends celebrating their second anniversary with a romantic getaway. Initially, they planned to spend their time together in a swanky hotel room. However, Juno made a mistake with the reservations and failed to extend their stay. As a result, the couple becomes stranded with nowhere to spend the night.
Juno brings them to a hostel in the outdoors. However, Minjae is upset and annoyed with their new surroundings. He doesn't want to celebrate their anniversary here, surrounded by a heatwave, mosquitoes, and nosy houseguests. Juno tries his best to be optimistic and cheer up his high-maintenance boyfriend. Nonetheless, Minjae remains in a cranky mood.
The couple meets Hyunsoo, the young owner of the hostel. They join Hyunsoo and the other guests for a group dinner. Juno and Minjae's new acquaintances are curious about their relationship. Juno is discrete and lies about them being high school friends. Minjae becomes even more annoyed at his boyfriend. Tensions rise between them, leading to a furious confrontation in the middle of the night. Juno and Minjae exchange heated words, putting their relationship under an enormous strain.
Tilted Summer Trailer
Tilted Summer Cast
Kim Chi Won (김치원)
Juno is Minjae's boyfriend. He planned a trip to celebrate their second anniversary as a couple. However, Juno made a mistake with the reservations and failed to extend their stay at the swanky hotel. They end up at a hostel, upsetting Minjae. Juno tries his best to accommodate Minjae and cheer up his disgruntled boyfriend.
Jung Jun Hwan (정준환)
Minjae is Juno's boyfriend. He took time off work to celebrate their second anniversary. However, Minjae is annoyed that Juno's carelessness led them stranded without a hotel reservation. He doesn't like living in the hostel arrangement, irritated by the heat and mosquitoes. Minjae is high-maintenance and remains in a cranky mood during their anniversary.
Kwon Ki Ha (권기하)
Hyunsoo is a young hostel owner. He accepts Juno and Minjae's urgent reservation after getting kicked out of their hotel room. Hyunsoo used to work in the city, but grew tired of the daily grind and moved outdoors instead. He offers Minjae relationship advice after his argument with Juno.
- Kim Minkyu is the director of Tilted Summer. He also made the 2018 BL short film Table Manner, featuring many of the same actors from this movie. The actors who portray Minjae, Hyunsoo & Aeri appear in both movies, playing similar roles. However, the two films don't have much in common other than the characters. Table Manner is the unofficial sequel of Tilted Summer, but they can be viewed separately.
Tilted Summer Review
Movie Review Score: 6.5
Tilted Summer feels different from the conventional BL movie. This genre has many sweet romances about cute guys falling in love with a happily ever after ending. Contrary to the norm, this short film depicts a feuding couple on the verge of a relationship crisis. Surprisingly, I like that it strays away from the usual formula and offers a cynical love story. After watching plenty of similar narratives, Tilted Summer stands out with a darker and grittier tone.
With that said, I don't think this movie will appeal to mainstream BL fans. The constant tension between the couple creates an unpleasant viewing experience. This story is about two boyfriends celebrating their second anniversary, but it's almost entirely devoid of happiness or positivity. Instead, the narrative is packed with melodrama and animosity from start to finish. It's too emotionally heavy without any balance in lightheartedness. A film where the leads bitch and bicker for twenty minutes isn't enticing.
The movie's climax occurs during a heated confrontation between Juno and Minjae. The intense argument unleashes all their pent-up frustration that accumulated throughout the film. I like this exchange because the emotions feel so raw, as if they're a real couple at their breaking point. Both actors (Kim Chi Won & Jung Jun Hwan) give strong performances that add to the persuasiveness of the scene. Tilted Summer reaches its peak at this midway point. The relationship drama feels exhilarating and keeps me intrigued about what will happen between the leads.
Unfortunately, I don't love where the movie takes us in the second half. The subsequent events are messy, senseless, and not written well enough. Minjae's startling actions will make you root against him. He turns into a clear-cut villain, removing any nuances from his characterization. The story is no longer about a couple working out their differences, but it goes downhill and becomes a tacky melodrama. Earlier, there was potential for this film to end poignantly and powerfully. Yet, Tilted Summer takes a wrong turn, delivering even more misery and angst.
Tilted Summer has a sad ending, which is appropriate based on what happened between the characters. A happy resolution wouldn't have made sense. I'm okay with a gay movie that doesn't end happily ever after. However, I'm not fond of the journey leading up to this gloomy finale. There is simply too much melancholy, pessimism & hostility for a twenty-minute short film. Although I appreciate Tilted Summer for doing a different type of BL, it doesn't feel empowering or enjoyable. Ultimately, the story leaves me with a poor impression and a bitter aftertaste.
Tilted Summer strays from the norm, adding a darker twist to the conventional BL love story. It depicts a feuding couple on the verge of a relationship crisis. Expect lots of hostility, angst, and explosive drama.
Juno and Minjae are constantly at odds throughout the movie. You won't root for them as a couple, especially after what happened in the story's second half.
The leads (Kim Chi Won & Jung Jun Hwan) deliver persuasive performances in the movie's climax. Their emotions felt raw and intense during the heated confrontation.
Tilted Summer has a sad ending where both leads continue to be miserable. However, a happy resolution wouldn't have made sense, given what happened between their characters.
The movie has unremarkable production values and doesn't necessarily look the best. Nonetheless, the visuals are serviceable and don't stand out too much.
Tilted Summer is a melodramatic short movie engulfed in misery. There's a dire shortage of lightheartedness in the depressing narrative. The story isn't written well enough to be enjoyable.