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Original Title:
jajeom Aentikeu

South Korea 2008

Comedy, Drama

Min Kyu-dong

Ju Ji-hun
Kim Jae-wook
Yoo Ah-in
Choi Ji-ho
Andy Gillet
Lee Hwi-hyang
Kim Chang-wan
Oh Mi-hee
Park Sang-hun
Kim Jin-ah
Yeo Jin-goo
Kim Seon-ah
Kim Min-ah
Kim Min-seon
Ko Chang-seok

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Story: Jin-hyuk (Ju Ji-hun) is a rich young man, who can do almost anything he wishes thanks to his parents' fortune. However, he decides to open a patisserie shop, even though he actually can't stand cakes and pastries at all. His apparent interest is meeting lots of women, who most likely will be visiting such a shop, and therefore he just needs a talented confectioner to make things perfect. He finds one in the gay guy Seon-woo (Kim Jae-wook), a man who he remembers from his past, because it is exactly this person who confessed his love to Jin-hyuk during their time at high school and who was rejected very rudely by him. Yet, Seon-woo doesn't recognize him at first and so Jin-hyuk hires the talented confectioner, because he knows that he won't fall for his extraordinary charm, which is said to be irresistable to either homo- or heterosexual men. The staff of the newly opened "Antique" shop is complemented by the ex-boxer Ki-beom (Yoo Ah-in), who has an affinity for Seon-woo's cakes and eventually wants to be apprenticed to him, and the bodyguard Soo-yeong (Choi Ji-ho), who looks after Jin-hyuk since his early childhood after latter had been the victim of a kidnapping for two months. Aside from the numerous quarrels Jin-hyuk has to face his past finally catches up with him, too...

Review: When you thought you have seen it all already, it's always nice to be disabused all of a sudden. "Antique" completely eludes any genre definition attempts, at times it is exceptionally inventive, colorful and off-beat, yet surprisingly it manages to hold the different ingredients of its recipe together in a well done dough. When taking a bite from the end product you will always find a new taste hidden in it and you will wonder about the combination of the ingredients, but in the end it is a cake you will remember for a while because of its uniqueness.
Granted, "Antique" may often be a bit alienating, but the charm emanated by the four guys, as well as the beautiful pictorial composition and the lighthearted main atmosphere can keep up the viewer's interest at any time. Director Min Kyu-dong ("All for Love", "Memento Mori") manages to do what only few succeed in: He mixes different genres, so that at the end of this rollercoaster ride you won't exactly know anymore what kind of a movie you were just watching. But there is one thing that "Antique" is without any doubt: fun.

Maybe the origin of the screenplay will offer an explanation for the wacky atmosphere of the film. "Antique" is actually based on the Japanese manga "Antique Bakery" by Fumi Yoshinaga. In the center of events are four good-looking guys, of which one is gay and another one might be with a good percentage of probability. The main target audience of the story are female viewers/readers, because we always get to see more of the feminine side of the men thanks to the story's content. Therefore, it seems that what's working out so well in form of booklets should also work out as a movie, shouldn't it? Apparently, but only in the hands of a capable director as the dissolutive and multi-layered material delivers enough stumbling blocks to drive more than just one movie into the ground. But director Min steers the film with a steady hand, despite all the hustle and bustle as well as events unfolding with a ludicrous pacing. Especially during the first half the movie delivers breakneck speed, there are numerous characters introduced, background information implemented, leaps in time and all of that with such a speed that you almost can't manage to keep up with the subtitles. Nevertheless, despite this flood of information everything remains surprisingly well digestible.

Maybe I just gave you a wrong impression. "Antique" is by no way just a movie for women only, no, heterosexual men also will get entertained by this movie, even the more as I for myself can't join Jin-hyuk's opinion that men should like hearty/salty meals and soju and no sweet stuff. Latter would be something for women. Well, I guess I have to come out as a fan of sweets now. The various luscious fancy cakes, pies, pastry and different glossy cake frostings, sugar icing-like decorations etc. will make your mouth water. In various split-screens, numerous cross-fadings, there are even some dancing and singing insertions in "Dasepo Naughty Girls" style, we are introduced to the making of several tasty cakes. During these scenes the love for details concerning the art work also becomes very apparent. The sets, especially the "Antique" shop, look extremely noble, the colors are at times garish and the pictures almost radiate inventiveness, so that you actually could have shot three movies with what you get to see here.

However, this brings us to a point that's certainly negative to rate. "Antique" sometimes seems a bit overloaden. The nature of a manga - in magazine form offering a lot more space to unfold its story - is often quite multi-layered. There is comedy, drama, thriller etc., and director Min actually tries to squeeze all of this into 110 minutes of film. Well, it has to be pointed out that he does a better job than he has the right to, but it still doesn't feel absolutely right. A little bit less would had been more. Especially when the otherwise cheerful comedy becomes more serious when Jin-hyuk's abduction in the past and the child kidnapping case of the police shifts into the movie's center. You have to ask yourself if the film wouldn't have worked out pretty well even without that addition. On the other hand it's understandable why Min implemented this story thread into his movie, because this gave him the tools the steer his work in a certain direction and actually give it some focus. Therefore there are also some few creepy scenes that found their way into "Antique", which prove that Min had already assembled enough experience in melting drama and horror in his "Memento Mori" to make it work out here as well. Yet, it has to be stressed that the cheerful mood of the movie is never undermined by that. This may be hard to imagine, but then again "Antique" is no movie you can imagine before you have watched it.

Of course the film mainly revolves around the four men of the patisserie shop, who first have to learn how to get along with each other. Seon-woo's erotic charm always confuses the feelings of his colleagues, and when a confectioner master from France arrives, it all becomes a glorious mess. Yes, there is even spoken French. Maybe that's something that shouldn't be missing in any film about gays, but rest assured, apart from that there are no stereotypes featured, Seon-woo in fact has an extraordinary charm, which even straight men can't deny, so that actor Kim Jae-woo even steals his colleague Ju Ji-hun's show. "Antique", nevertheless, is only marginally a film about gays, it's more about the relationship between the guys and the fun involved with it. Fun that resembles an intoxication of your senses thanks to the visual magnificence, and which is so innocently cheerful like if being a child sitting at the christmas tree again. Despite the mentioned obvious downsides the movie has to be recommended because of its inventiveness, differentness and its richness of ideas.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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