×

Antique

This light souffle has a few too many ingredients to achieve a satisfactory balance.

With:
With: Ju Ji-hun, Kim Jae-wook, Andy Gillet, Yu Ah-in, Choi Ji-ho, Kim Chang-wan, Lee Hwi-hyang, Oh Mi-heui, Nam Myeong-ryeol, Lee Hwan, Go Chang-seok. (Korean, French dialogue)

A Japanese manga conceived for teen girls gets a Korean bigscreen makeover in “Antique,” the story of four hot guys who run a pastry shop, dealing with same-sex attraction and a criminal on the loose while preparing unpronounceable Gallic confections for their clientele. Helmer Min Kyu-dong zooms in on the mouthwatering cast and delicacies on sale, though this light souffle has a few too many ingredients to achieve a satisfactory balance. Still, gay and Asian fests will want to have this cake and eat it, before the pic starts reaping some cherries on the top in ancillary.

Pic is already the third adaptation of the “Antique Bakery” manga by femme artist Fumi Yoshinaga. The comic is part of the Japanese Boys Love genre, which features stories about gay relationships targeted at young teenage girls (take out the threat factor, double the eye candy). Helmers such as Kotaro Terauchi have been making low-budget BL movies for some time, but this highly polished South Korean adaptation is clearly aimed at the masses. Locally, “Antique” drew some 1.2 million admissions on release late last year.

Rich kid Jin-hyeok (handsome Ju Ji-hun) decides to open a pastry shop, called Antique, despite the fact he hates cake. The excuse he gives his family: “All the customers are girls.” Indeed. But all the employees are boys, as demanded by his star pastry chef, Seon-woo (androgynous Kim Jae-wook), a comfortably out gay man who learned his trade in France from his then-lover, Jean-Baptiste (Andy Gillet).

Seon-woo has a strange fairy tale-like quality that makes every man, gay or straight, fall in love with him — every man, that is, except for the slightly homophobic Jin-hyeok, who (as revealed in the prologue) is the only man who ever rejected Seon-woo’s advances, a decade earlier at school.

The film’s first half is a light, humorous look at this odd pairing as they start selling their wares (often shown in closeup, a la “Eat Drink Man Woman”), with even a song-and-dance number thrown in that plays like a cross between a small-scale Busby Berkeley sequence and “Memories of Matsuko.” The duo hire help in the form of sweet-toothed former boxer Ki-beom (Yu Ah-in, who eats more than he speaks).

The dynamics change when Su-yeong (Choi Ji-ho), a bodyguard for Jin-hyeok, appears. The pic moves into darker territory when Jin-hyuk’s reasons for opening the shop become clear, while more complications arise with the arrival of the amorous Jean-Baptiste.

As in the Sapphic psychothriller “Memento Mori,” which Min co-helmed, the same-sex love story, melodrama and traditional Asian thriller motifs mesh well, though it may be a tad much for some Western auds. Arguably, the pic could have worked just as well without the added crime story.

Actors were cast for their looks, but as the central pair, Kim and Ju especially imbue their stock characters with some humanity, and the shared history between Seon-woo and Jean-Baptiste feels surprisingly real.

The pic is brightly lit and good-looking; production designer Jeon Gyeong-ran turns Antique into a bakery that’s half Parisian art-deco, half Gaudian colored tiles. Costume designer Chang Hyo-jae overdoes the gays-love-scarves look but otherwise delivers work on par with the other tech contributions.

Antique

South Korea

Production: A Showbox/Mediaplex release of a United Pictures, Soo Film, Zip Cinema production. (International sales: Finecut, Seoul.) Produced by Min Jin-su, Eugene Lee. Executive producers, Lee Jeong-hun, Lee Tae-hun. Directed by Min Kyu-dong. Screenplay, Lee Gyeong-eu, Kim Da-yeong, Min, based on the manga by Fumi Yoshinaga.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Kim Jun-yeong; editor, Kim Seon-min; music, Chang Yeong-gyu, Dalparan; production designer, Jeon Gyeong-ran; costume designer, Chang Hyo-jae; sound (Dolby SRD), Choi Tae-yeong; visual effects, Yun Jae-hun. Reviewed on DVD, Luxembourg, July 13, 2009. (In Berlin Film Festival -- Kulinarisches Kino.) Running time: 109 MIN.

With: With: Ju Ji-hun, Kim Jae-wook, Andy Gillet, Yu Ah-in, Choi Ji-ho, Kim Chang-wan, Lee Hwi-hyang, Oh Mi-heui, Nam Myeong-ryeol, Lee Hwan, Go Chang-seok. (Korean, French dialogue)

More Film

  • Matt Smith

    Matt Smith, 'Leave No Trace' Star Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie Circle Edgar Wright Movie

    Matt Smith and “Leave No Trace” star Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie are in negotiations to join Edgar Wright’s next film, “Last Night in Soho,” sources tell Variety. Details are vague about the psychological horror movie, other than it being set in London’s Soho district. Anya Taylor Joy is also in the cast. Production is expected to [...]

  • Vice Media

    Vice Media Taps Joe Simon as Chief Technology Officer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Joe Simon has been tapped as chief technology officer at Vice Media. The newly created role will include oversight of data analytics, engineering, information technology, media operations, media technology, post production, and systems management. Prior to Vice, Simon spent three years as Encompass Digital Media’s chief operating officer. Previously he held the chief technology officer [...]

  • Michael B Jordan denzel washington

    Michael B. Jordan to Star in Denzel Washington's 'Journal for Jordan'

    Michael B. Jordan is in talks to star in Sony’s “Journal for Jordan,” a drama that will be directed by Denzel Washington. The movie, penned by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Virgil Williams, is based on the true story of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Dana Canedy’s love affair with First Sergeant Charles Monroe King. King kept a journal [...]

  • Sylvester Stallone

    Sylvester Stallone's Superhero Drama 'Samaritan' Lands at MGM

    MGM is developing the superhero drama “Samaritan” with Sylvester Stallone attached to star and produce through his Balboa Productions. The studio has acquired Bragi F. Schut’s script, which centers on a boy learning that a missing superhero, who vanished 20 years earlier after a battle, may still be alive. MGM will develop “Samaritan” with Stallone [...]

  • Kendrick Lamar

    Oscars: Kendrick Lamar and SZA Will Not Perform 'Black Panther' Song (EXCLUSIVE)

    Despite the Academy’s efforts to secure Kendrick Lamar and SZA for a performance of the Oscar-nominated song “All the Stars” from “Black Panther” on the upcoming Oscars telecast, the duo will not be a part of the show, Variety has learned. The reason, according to a source close to the situation, is logistics and timing. [...]

  • Oscars Spa Treatments

    Area Spas Offer Red Carpet Treatments in Time for Oscars

    From a shopping session with a celebrity stylist to a covert airport pickup, these hotels and spas are offering even more curated packages for the ultimate VIP Oscar experience. For the Jetsetter Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills’ Doheny Suite Experience package allows travelers to evade the paparazzi with an underground or curbside [...]

  • Rocketman

    See Taron Egerton Transform Into Elton John in New ‘Rocketman’ Trailer

    A new trailer for “Rocketman,” the Elton John “fantasy musical” in theaters May 31, was released today. As the singer, actor Taron Egerton (“Eddie the Eagle”) performs “Tiny Dancer” and is seen honing his talent at home, rising to fame and grappling with the pitfalls that superstardom can bring. The film also stars Jamie Bell (as John’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content