장수상회 (Salut D’Amour)

장수상회 (Salut D’Amour)

A Big Pictures/CJ E&M Production
Distribution: CJ E&M
Rating: 12 and Over
Genre: Comedy, Melodrama
Running Time: 112 Min
Shooting Time: 2014/Aug/29~Nov/23 (59 Dates)
Release: 2015/Apr/09

WITH 박근형 (Park Geun-Hyung) as Seong-Chil; 윤여정 (Yoon Yeo-Jung) as Geum-Nim; 조진웅 (Jo Jin-Woong) as Jang-Soo; 한지민 (Han Ji-Min) as Min-Jung; 김정태 (Kim Jung-Tae) as Kim Chi-Soo; 황우슬혜 (Hwang Wooseul-Hye) as Miss Park; 이준혁 (Lee Joon-Hyeok) as Oh Bok-Seong; 김재화 (Kim Jae-Hwa) as Madam Hwang; 문가영 (Moon Ga-Young) as Ah-Young; 찬열 (Chan Yeol) as Min-Seong; 배호근 (Bae Ho-Geun) as Cheong-Soo;

CREW Director 강제규 (Kang Je-Gyu) Executive Producer 임상진 (Im Sang-Jin) | Screenplay 이상현 (Lee Sang-Hyun) Adaptation 강제규 (Kang Je-Gyu) 방은진 (Bang Eun-Jin) | Director of Photography 이형덕 (Lee Hyeong-Deok) Lighting 박정우 (Park Jung-Woo) Editor 박곡지 (Park Gok-Ji) Music 이동준 (Lee Dong-Joon) Art Direction 오흥석 (Oh Heung-Seok) Costumes 유지연 (Yoo Ji-Yeon) Action Choreography 윤대원 (Yoon Dae-Won) Assistant Director 문대영 (Moon Dae-Young)

BOX OFFICE
KOFIC Nationwide
TOTAL REVENUE: 8,717,696,143 Won
TOTAL ADMISSIONS: 1,161,227
BUDGET: 3,700,000,000 Won

Photo ⓒ Big Pictures/CJ E&M

SYNOPSIS

It’s spring, a wonderful time for love. Fussy, grey-haired Sung-chil is asked out by an elderly woman, Geum-nim, on his way home after work at the local grocery store. Troubled but excited by the unexpected proposal, he asks the storeowner for advice and the entire town chips in with tips. As Sung-chil and Geum-nim slowly fall in love, their relationship becomes the talk of the town. He fears mockery, but everyone wants to help him get the girl. But nothing is that simple. When she doesn’t show up for their cherry blossom date, his frantic search for her leads him to a heart-wrenching truth and also the most romantic gift of his life. [KoBiz]

IN SHORT

Reaching your fifties and no longer feeling relevant as an auteur must be quite the shock, especially for someone so used to the limelight. In every decade he's been part of the film community, Kang Je-Gyu has managed to do something that left a mark: his debut in the early 1990s as a scriptwriter was marked by success both on the critical sphere and in terms of popular acceptance, with works as varied as Kang Woo-Seok's early commercial hits 그래 가끔 하늘을 보자 (Let's Look at the Sky Sometimes) and 누가 용의 발톱을 보았는가 (Who Saw the Dragon's Claws), and the cult HK noir-esque drama 게임의 법칙 (Rules of the Game); his work as a director marked a veritable turning point for the entire industry, giving it the impetus it needed to confidently produce local blockbusters – first with the fantasy 은행나무 침대 (The Gingko Bed) and then with the divide actioner 쉬리 (Shiri). In the 2000s, he directed one of the earliest 10 million ticket sellers, the war drama 태극기 휘날리며 (Taegukgi).

But everything he's done since, particularly the war blockbuster 마이 웨이 (My Way), has only reaped meager rewards. It's the proverbial “artistic middle-life crisis” many a director his age tends to go through, something that even luminaries like Im Kwon-Taek had to endure. It's the kind of crossroad that could lead you to slow and inexorable oblivion, or to a fountain of youth that resuscitates your career. If this film embodies the kind of direction Kang wants to take in this middle-age of his career, I'd begin to worry – because it produced something that's completely vanilla, neither as blatantly obvious as a Yoon Je-Gyun nostalgia project would be nor meaty enough to go in another, more serious direction.

A remake of the 2008 Nicholas Fackler melodrama Lovely, Still – so if you wanted your spoiler, that in itself is already a gigantic one – Kang's first feature film in nearly five years tries to ride the nostalgia craze that's lately become one of Chungmuro's most annoyingly complacent Trojan Horses (both as a virus to the system and as a narrative façade hiding much less genuine commercial intents). But instead of dehumanizing the protagonist the way 국제시장 (Ode to My Father) did, the film's first act plays a bit like “geezer romance” flicks to the tune of 그대를 사랑합니다 (Late Blossom) or – to cite a much better, if lesser known, example – 고독이 몸부림칠 때 (Dance with Solitude). We get a curmudgeonly elder bickering his way through town and eventually falling prey to the charming allure of a gentle lady. That the prospective couple is played by two of Korea's finest thespians (Park Geun-Hyung and Yoon Yeo-Jung) means that no matter how low the script could stoop, they'd probably get something agreeable out of it.

And indeed they do, especially when Kang leaves all the – often unnecessary – ancillary characters out of the picture and lets the two interact on their own. It's the moments they share and manage to elevate with their interplay that sustain the entire film, a bit like Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn did in the charming but underdeveloped original. But that's probably the main issue: just like Lovely, Still, this film feels like a huge pipe dream existing for the sake of that third act, to the point that any hint leading to the final denouement feels more like a last minute insert to legitimize whatever the scriptwriter came up with at the end – The Usual Suspects style, so to speak.

What's even more problematic is the whole “localization” process the film went through, trying to give some meaning to the whole urban redevelopment saga as if this was a 1990s social realist drama, and then conveniently forgetting it all in the third act when it's no longer needed. Seong-Chil embodies so many clichés of the stereotypical pre-divide generation that it's hard to fall for his sudden romantic epiphany – especially in light of the narrative gimmick at the root of his “transformation.”

Fine performances of the leads aside, at the end of the day this feels more like one of those two-episode TV specials you get on New Year's Day – what with its facile emotions, broad caricatures and tearjerking, guilt-laden finale. A bit of an artistic demotion for someone who only a little over a decade ago managed to set records left and right.

misaeng

ACTING GRADES

74 박근형 (Park Geun-Hyung)
73 윤여정 (Yoon Yeo-Jung)
72 조진웅 (Jo Jin-Woong)
68 김재화 (Kim Jae-Hwa)
65 이준혁 (Lee Joon-Hyeok)
64 황우슬혜 (Hwang Wooseul-Hye)
63 문가영 (Moon Ga-Young)
61 김정태 (Kim Jung-Tae)
60 한지민 (Han Ji-Min)
52 배호근 (Bae Ho-Geun)
50 찬열 (Chan Yeol)

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~ Last Update: 2015/05/27