Antique (Korean Film)

antique-bakery-korean-film

Original Title: 서양골동양과자점 앤티크
Alternate Title: Antique Bakery
Release Date: 13 November 2008
Director: Min Kyu-Dong
Manga by: Fumi Yoshinaga
Screenplay by: Min Kyu-Dong, Kim Da-Yeong, Lee Kyeong-Ui
Cast: Ju Ji-Hoon, Yoo Ah-In, Kim Jae-Wook, Choi Ji-Ho, Andy Gillet

It all starts with a cake. Kim Jin-hyuk (Ju) presents it to the girl of his high school dreams only to be rejected. Shortly after she walks away, the shy, slightly awkward Min Sun-woo (Kim) openly confesses his love to the handsome star pupil. His rejection is slightly more… abrupt, to say the least. Bristling at the idea that this shy lad would confess his love to him, Jin-hyuk calls him a few choice slurs, tells him to go die, then throws his own attempt at a confession — the spurned cake — into Sun-woo’s face.

Fast forward eleven years later. Sun-woo becomes something of a legend both in the pastry world and among the vast majority of the male population. Meanwhile, after a string of failed relationships, Jin-hyuk has decided to open his own patisserie, convinced Miss Right will walk through the door. Instead, the once-rejected flower boy offers to be his chef — under the condition that Jin-hyuk doesn’t hire any women. He brings with him an unparalleled talent for baking French delicacies and a long trail of brokenhearted men.

What touts itself as a sort of alternative romance comedy actually turns into something far more intricate once you realize the depth of Jin-hyuk’s past and Sun-woo’s innate magnetism for sexual partners. Using a pastry shop as a conceit for attempting to both hide one’s pain and find one’s happiness is quite clever. When flashes of Jin-hyuk’s past surface, you’re able to understand why he not only lacks the constitution for anything sweet, but why that weakness extends to his failed love life. Though the actual story behind Jin-hyuk’s past is quite harrowing, the connection to a side story about a string of kidnapping-turned-murders of small children stretches itself thin in the end.

Meanwhile, Antique’s cast is pure perfection. Ju Ji-hoon perfectly portrays a man who slips into a practiced façade, but whose inner demons work to keep him a bit embittered, if not jaded about everything around him. The role of a former boxing champion who comes to the patisserie for the cake and the companionship is played with charming precision by K-drama superstar Yoo Ah-in. Choi Ji-ho portrays the hopelessly adorable bumbling bodyguard so genuinely the character becomes a tragic figure of simplicity. The role of one of Sun-woo’s lovers, a violently jealous French pastry chef named Jean-Baptiste Evan, actually works almost flawlessly, thanks mostly in part to Andy Gillet’s portrayal — though the execution of the end of the relationship was a bit touch and go.

However, the real star of this film is undoubtedly Kim Jae-wook as the gorgeous pastry chef. Kim’s beauty lends itself effortlessly to the role of an almost hedonistic flower boy, but his openness creates a brilliant dichotomy for a character that could easily just be thrown in for pretty boy appeal. What’s truly impressive is Kim’s portrayal of a homosexual playboy. He could’ve been overbearingly effeminate, instead he was brazen and unapologetic. He could’ve been a simpering diva, instead he was strong-willed and poignantly affectionate. He didn’t rely on his looks to be successful, though his track record with men would point to the contrary. Instead, his ability to create French delights with flair and energy made him the powerful force he was in the film. He almost outshines the rest of the main cast, but if it weren’t for the pitch-perfect dynamic between Jin-hyuk and Sun-woo, Antique would almost certainly not have succeeded as much as it did.

What could have been a simple romantic comedy turned out to be a film that was as layered as one of Sun-woo’s delicate pastries. Though it had its miscues regarding certain plot points, Antique still stands as a beautiful film with an incredible cast.

Rating: ★★★★¼ 

Part of YAM Magazine’s 2013 LGBT Blogathon.

Camiele

As unexpected as my path was to loving all things weird, more unexpected is my ability to get attention for writing about the stuff.

5 Responses

  1. Camiele says:

    The movie isn’t a romance at all. I mean, everybody’s in love with Sun-woo, but that’s not even a real part of the story itself. It like marquees itself as a romance, but the romantic element isn’t even romance. It’s more lust for Sun-woo from every male in SK… HaHa.

  2. amy says:

    There was a discussion some time ago when they were talking about gay men’s representation on South Korean dramas, I think, where they were questioning the use of extremely attractive men in these roles as a fan service… as if saying “it’s okay if you’re gay, as long as we (women) get to watch” and while I do think they have a point, I also ask myself “is there any not-somewhat-attractive lead” in Kdramas or Kfilm? xD

    I mean, it’s kind of like the industry standard, no?

    The question of fan service still arises though.

    And this comment arises because I’ve read a comment that said that “gays and women” will be happy with this because of the fanservice. lol

    • Camiele says:

      @amy, Well, true. I think that’s why Two Weddings and a Funeral works so well. Because they were essentially plain, old, regular gays… HaHa. But to deny the existence of unreal, unholy beautiful gays isn’t at all realistic. And, you’re right. If they want proper representation, it shouldn’t be htat much different than “straight” Kdramas. It essentially all appeals to the same audience… HaHA. It is absolutely the industry standard, especially from a cultural perspective where everything from interviews for data entry positions to getting a record deal to being elected even is based heavily on looks.

      I honestly think you’d be hard-pressed to find a part of mainstream Korean society where fanservice WASN’T part in parcel to a show’s/group’s/artist’s/film’s success.

      • amy says:

        @Camiele, I’m not really a fan of fanservice xD Outside of shipping fiction characters (that I haven’t done since I’ve dropped my obsession with American TV lol), I always think it’s a tiny bit weird to ship real people, which maybe explains why I haven’t gotten into Korean entertainment as much. Then again, I suppose there are fans in Japanese entertainment who also ship real people.

        • Camiele says:

          @amy, I don’t really mind it at all. I mean, I guess that’s because I do it with everybody anyway… like people I know:

          “OMG! He’d be too cute with that sexy blond over there.” Yeah… it happens in reality… HAHA.

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