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Twenty - Movie Poster
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South Korea 2014

Comedy, Drama, Romance

Lee Byeong-heon

Kim Woo-bin
Kang Ha-neul
Jeong So-min
Lee Yoo-bi
Min Hyo-rin
Jung Joo-yeon
Yang Hyeon-min
Kim Ee-seong
Ahn Jae-hong
Na Jong-chan

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Story: Kyeong-jae (Kang Ha-neul) goes to college after he has finished school. He wants to work at a company and make a lot of money. While Dong-woo (Junho) dreams of a future as a comic artist Chi-ho (Kim Woo-bin) has no idea what to do in life. Fortunately, his parents are rich and so he can focus on women. However, his parents eventually give him an ultimatum and shortly after that he meets Eun-hye (Jung Joo-yeon) who wants to establish herself as an actress. Chi-ho seems to develop feelings for her and at first everything works out pretty well between them. At least better than with Kyeong-jae and Jin-joo (Min Hyo-rin), a female student, who has already a boyfriend. Only Dong-woo hasn't any problems with love yet, instead he worries about his mother who he left in order to chase his dream, which is why he has a guilty conscience. The three young friends don't understand how life can be so difficult, although everyone is telling them that they are about to have the best years of their lives before them. Apparently, they still have to learn a lot about life...

Review: "Twenty" is a coming-of-age movie and deals with what it means to make mistakes, be it when it comes to love or the choice of your education. While we are repeatedly shown that the 20s aren't at all a period of life when everything is great - after all you have to face the serious side of life for the first time - this comedy tries to never lose sight of its lighthearted tone and in order to achieve that it relies on witty gags. However, the flick also simply doesn't seem to know what its main theme is supposed to be and thus seems fickle and overloaden concerning its many subplots which the movie switches between with a breakneck pacing. That's not just exhausting, but also prevents the flashes of seriousness from having the impact they were probably supposed to have.

Twenty - Film Screenshot 11

Still, the individual parts of the comedy are quite respectable. The chemistry between the girls and boys is just about right and every now and then there are some salty jokes, even though they thankfully never become outright stupid. There is also a bromance between the three friends that can't be overlooked, but even until the middle part it is difficult to keep actors Junho ("Cold Eyes") and Kang Ha-neul ("Mourning Grave") apart. It doesn't really help that everyone has the same haircut and to make things worse they also have a sister or love interest who doesn't look that different at first. Only Kim Woo-bin ("The Con Artists") stands out with his striking facial features. His character is also standing in the film's center for a while, but then again this isn't really true either because there is a constant shift between the individual stories.

Twenty - Film Screenshot 12

Ultimately, it is also tiring that the glue which is supposed to keep the episode-like stories around love and heartache together is missing. You could even think that director and screenwriter Lee Byeong-heon suffers from ADHD and simply can't help but to constantly shift perspective, which is why "Twenty" has its most quiet moments when the three friends sit together and drink. But even then the dialogues' pacing is pretty high. Still, especially the dialogues deserve a few words of praise. They always touch on important topics of growing-up and by doing so prove to be surprisingly profound, making you realize that in fact a lot of things were more difficult at the age of twenty and not just easier as most adults want to make you believe. The only problem is that the flashes of neat moments that go hand in hand with almost profound self-knowledge aren't integrated into the rest of the film in a profitable manner.

Care for an example? Next to the several main threads of the story there is also the insertion of a story around a depressive director who listens to Chi-ho's idea for a film at a drinking table - a film with the title "Invasion from the Penis Planet". This intermezzo is presented along with some comic drawings and in fact shows some unusual (and knuckleheaded) creativity! But what purpose does this story serve within the movie? There are often similar moments to be found in "Twenty". While we can accept the soon forgotten unlucky first run-ins with love as some hard, but necessary bumps in the road of growing up those moments simply get out of line. Also, some of the humorous moments, of which most work out quite well, especially those that poke fun at romance/drama clichés, seem to be put into the comedy in a too unnatural fashion. Furthermore, at times the director savors some of the slapstick moments too long so that they simply look dull in the end, like the comical brawl accompanied by the song "All by Myself".

Twenty - Film Screenshot 13

The discrepancy between the intended seriousness of certain life lessons and the lighthearted tone with which youth is celebrated becomes particularly apparant towards the end. Are we supposed to reflect or just have some lighthearted fun? "Twenty" never really knows that itself as the ending proves, too, which actually consists of numerous epilogues. It's almost as if the director finally wanted to get his act together and deliver a jaunty comedy, but then again also wanted to get a few more things off his chest. This constant shift unfortunately gets annoying and that's a shame since "Twenty" can be surprisingly profound and entertaining. But sadly not always at the same time. You actually want to like "Twenty", but despite a technically flawless realisation the comedy lacks too much of a focus and because of that trips too often.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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