THE AGE OF AQUARIUS
C’est Si Bon was the music scene in the late 1960’s Seoul. Featuring talented acoustic folk singers, the club set the stage for many folk singers to make their start. Singers, such as Yoon Hyung Joo (Kang Ha Neul) and Song Chang Shik (Jo Bok Rae), both music prodigies, made their start at the club. After hearing him sing, Lee Jang Hee (Jin Goo) actively recruits Oh Geun Tae (Jung Woo), a poor college boy studying in Seoul away from his small hometown. He’s reluctant at first until he meets Min Ja Young (Han Hyo Joo) and can’t help but be pulled in by the C’est Si Bon world.
C’est Si Bon was a real club in Seoul and could probably equated with CBGB’s in NY for folk music. However, it’s important to note that movie blends fictional elements with this non-fiction world. Geun Tae and Ja Young are among the imaginary creations of the writer.
Jung Woo, Han Hyo Joo – 나 그대에게 모두 드리리 (정우, 한효주 ver.) (I’ll Give All to You (Jung Woo, Han Hyo Joo ver.))
The movie seems to be playing up this trend of young actors reviving retro eras, which probably started with Sunny reviving the 80’s to the Answer Me series reviving the 90’s, the latter of which starred Jung Woo. This one doesn’t seem any different for the 60’s but I got a kick of watching the young Jo Young Nam (Kim In Kwon) be a womanizer or seeing that teen girls on the street were being stopped by cops because their miniskirts were too short. Korea seemed to be going through a renaissance at this time because just 20 years prior the entire country was a warzone.
Although Jung Woo’s Geun Tae seems like a redux of Answer Me 1994‘s Sseu Re Ki, I found it fairly easy to connect with Geun Tae and Ja Young because the passion and innocence of their characters feels familiar for movies of this genre but considering that this is a music movie or a movie inspired by the music of the times, I wish we got to see more of the beginning of Yoon Hyung Joo, Song Chang Shik and Jo Young Nam. I especially liked the fact that Yoon Hyung Joo was a pre-med student who had a very smooth style while Song Chang Shik had a very eclectic personality. They were all stars that launched folk music on the Korean cultural scene.
Despite the fictional character, Oh Geun Tae, Yoon Hyung Joo and Song Chang Shik were originally part of a trio called Trio C’est Si Bon before they became Twin Folio. The video below features Trio C’est Si Bon playing together 45 years after they disbanded. In order from the left, the members were Song Chang Shik, Yoon Hyung Joo and Lee Ik Kyun, the last being the inspiration for Jung Woo’s character.
Instead, it feels like Geun Tae and Ja Young were created to help viewers connect with the story and it’s easy to see where their story provided a filler where there was no story about C’est Si Bon to incorporate. Unfortunately, the entire movie is a Geun Tae and Ja Young filler but their love story doesn’t seem all that unique. You could almost take their story, with the exception of the musical elements, and insert it anywhere.
On a personal note, I was more interested in knowing more about Lee Jang Hee as he started the Radio Korea stateside and connected many Korean-American to the homeland. He was played beautifully by both Jin Goo and Jang Hyun Sung as the young and older versions of this character respectively. In fact, it was through his character that we learn of the story of the C’est Si Bon trio and Geun Tae and Ja Young’s love story.
I was satisfied by the fact the movie comes full circle with Geun Tae and Ja Young’s story. The era is depicted very well and anyone who remembers that time will find the movie enjoyable but without having that history, I think it is easy to notice the holes in the plot. Still, it’s a charming movie and provides a handful of humorous moments that makes it enjoyable overall.