Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Antique Bakery (2008) - ★★★½

Director: Kyu-Dong Min
Stars: Ji-hun Ju, Jae-wook Kim, Ah In Yoo, Ji-ho Choi, Andy Gillet

"I'm a gay of demonic charm." Right off the bat, this is one of the most memorable lines I've ever heard. Antique Bakery is a romantic-comedy that works from the age-old 'odd couple' routine. We have a very manly man trying to make a business work with a very feminine man, which leads to funny mishaps and crazy outcomes. What makes this different, and really interesting, is that the feminine man is a homosexual playboy that had a crush on the manly man in high school. It's such a nice, light-hearted, funny film! I couldn't stop smiling throughout the movie. Their smiles, their chemistry, their dialogue, their story... this film has such an infectious charm. I've seen many Korean romance movies, and Antique Bakery is definitely one of my personal favourites.

Jin-hyeok (Ji-hun Ju) opens a cake shop in an old antique store. He hires Seun-woo (Jae-wook Kim), Korea's best pastry chef (who fell in love with him in high school). Sparks fly as the two try their best to make the business work, whilst one of them battles with a dark past that he can't quite remember but can never quite forget.

The "Gay of Demonic charm," played by Jae-wook Kim.

This movie is filled with such amazing sequences that make my heart burst with joy! They're colourful, bubbly, wickedly funny, and so different to anything I've ever seen before. I particularly loved the sequence where Jin-hyeok learned all about the cakes and processes. They turned something that would usually be mundane into a really bouncy and delightful piece of cinema. Their film-making techniques remind me of a quote I heard from the film. "Cake will make your happiest moments even better." Man, if dancing, jazzy music, and unique cinematography were cake, then Antique Bakery is the sweetest cake of all.

Ji-hun Ju gave a terrific performance!

Speaking of cake, this movie made me crave desserts like you wouldn't believe. My mouth was watering! I was absolutely dying to try the intricate and beautiful sweets they had at the bakery. Antique Bakery is to sweets what Sideways (2004) is to wine, it just makes desserts look more tantalising than anything your wildest dreams can imagine.

One of the things I like most about Antique Bakery is the way it doesn't let the 'romantic' relationship dominate the story. For a large sum of the movie, we're looking at different themes to do with drama and comedy. We've got this possible romance imbedded deep down in our brains, and we know it's there, but it hasn't blossomed. It adds to the excitement of it all and makes their relationship much more interesting. A big problem with Korean romance films is that they either pile on the cheesy love stuff throughout the whole film, or they have a small burst of passion that ends too soon. I love the way Antique Bakery takes things slow, which has done wonders to the suspense of the romance (making it unique in that respect). The funny thing is, after all I've said, this isn't really a romance movie. It just suggests that there may be a romance looming.

As with every 'edgy' romantic-comedy, Antique Bakery had its flaws. It has these little sub-plots and brief telling's of the characters pasts, which do nothing but detract from the main story. I wasn't too keen on the kidnapping storyline either. It only complicated things and made the movie run too long. Not to mention, it wasn't executed in a particularly convincing or haunting way. It just didn't suit the movie... it's like they wanted to stretch the real film out another half an hour, so they came up with a kidnapper angle. The same goes for scenes where they reveal small bits about the past lives of the characters. Even if it means we get to know more about who they are as people, and how they got to be that way, it just wasn't done in a way that suited the film. I personally wish that they stuck to the basic storyline of a romance in a bakery, instead of adding bits and pieces that just don't seem right. With that being said, I was still entertained throughout these low-points.

Antique Bakery is just a big bundle of joy, a real treasure to watch. "Since life is a bitter thing, we try to make our joys even sweeter." While some people use cakes and desserts to make their life sweeter, the thing I need is movies. The funny thing about that quote is that it perfectly describes how I feel about this film. If you need a movie with a bit of spark, loads of fun, and heartfelt performances, then rent this movie ASAP! It will not disappoint.

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