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I was interested in this film for 2 things: Choi Min-Sik, excellent south Korean actor who has appeared in quite a few great films, and is always fun to watch, and my interest in music. The story follows Hyeon-Woo, a musician, talented saxophone and trumpet player as well as composer, who is sick of life in the city and moves to a rural mining town Dogye, taking up a job placement as a music teacher at the local high school. When he gets there, he eventually finds the class who are of poor skill level and not technically proficient in the slightest, and ends up leading them and teaching them to see if they can win a national high school music contest.
First off I’ll say the setting was great. The sets seemed like they were all real places and the film was all shot on location (I’m not sure whether it actually was) which added to the atmosphere and makes you feel more involved in the story for sure. Especially seeing all the interiors filled with clutter, even the stories hero Hyeon-Woo leaves a couple tapes called ‘Memories of Lust’ on top of his TV, which a friend spots, and he tries to cover it up by saying he wanted to borrow the (amazing) film ‘Memories of Murder’ from a friend and they got the names mixed up, which was a cool reference as well as showing the detail of the film.
As usual Choi delivers his usual comedic additions to the film, trying to dislodge a speed camera from a traffic light by throwing rocks at it (and missing) as well as a bunch of other moments that I will not spoil. His character was played awesomely well, Choi definitely got the characters ego and short temper across, the character is very unique and well suited to the actor. The rest of the cast were great, Woo’s ex-wife, friends and his students were all played very well and believably, and the connections between characters were solid.
Probably my only gripe besides the slightly weak story, which is a given once you read the synopsis, is the length and pacing. It does get slightly boring in parts, and it’s a good job they had some talent and good characters in there to keep you invested and entertained. Lots of the scenes cut what seemed like short and some of them left me confused, you’ll know which if you watch. But these are kind of minor, and aside from being shortened and made a little more ‘cogent’ this film was perfectly enjoyable and I recommend you watch it if only for Min-Sik Choi.
And as a quick note here, the music was very nice, not something I would normally listen to but oh well, it suits the film.