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[HanCinema's Film Review] "Fake, Beethoven"

In the present day of "Fake, Beethoven" we see director Bong Soo, played by Bong Soo, who is also the writer and director of the movie itself, in a lonely, sparse-looking studio with a couple of dogs watching a film awards ceremony. It takes awhile for "Fake, Beethoven" to explain the exact circumstances behind his fall from grace. The short version is that Bong Soo doesn't really like any of his film collaborators, and they don't like him either.


The exact details elsewhere are a bit hard to follow. Bong Soo's wife, played by Kim Min-kyung-III, seems like an important character and is indeed one of the few characters whose backstory I can even remember. She's a lot younger than him, even though she's pushing forty now, because they got married while she was a student and he was a professor. Bong Soo himself regrets this, realizing in retrospect that she had a lot less romantic experience than he had assumed at the time.

But Bong Soo's wife is oddly positive about the relationship despite problems such as Bong Soo ineffectually trying to manage relationships with other younger actresses to his personal advantage. Despite the clarity of this arc, I cannot for the life of me remember what Bong Soo's wife name is, or if she even has one, because their relationship is surprisingly unimportant to the overall story. Instead, we just get lots of directors and producers bickering with each other over.

How does this lead to murder? Well I'm...still not at all sure to be honest. Director Seo (played by Song Dong-hwan) is overly enthusiastic in the past yet oddly petty and spiteful in the present, to the point that for all of Bong Soo's flaws, Director Seo still comes off like the worse person. What makes "Fake, Beethoven" so odd is that Director Seo lacks coherent, or at least interesting, motivation, which is a problem since he's the main character.

Despite murder appearing in the plot summary, "Fake, Beethoven" isn't really a murder mystery at all, just because nothing is clearly spelled out. To make matters worse, the detective investigating the case has almost identical facial hair to Director Seo in the present day. Characters being hard to tell apart is a chronic problem, with Kim Min-kyung-III coming off as so distinctive in part because she's the only older woman in the cast.

She's oddly vivacious here, exuding a sort of pathetic charm that simultaneously marks her as plausibly attractive to Director Seo while her actual husband's interest is limited in comparison. Oh, and "Fake, Beethoven" also features a movie-within-a-movie that just seems like unremarkable horror stuff not really worth all the attention various film industry professionals give to it.

Really, I could say the same thing about "Fake, Beethoven" as a whole. It boosted the career profile of Kim Nu-ri so that she got a major supporting role in "Tomorrow" the year after the movie came out. Aside from that, though, nothing about this movie is especially noteworthy.

Written by William Schwartz


"Fake, Beethoven" is directed by Bong Soo, and features Song Dong-hwan, Kim Nu-ri, Bong Soo, Kim Ye-ho, Kim Min-kyung-III, Kim Yoon-mi. Release date in Korea: 2021/02/25.

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