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"Sweet Sixties" Is a Bit Bland

2004/03/18 | 221 views | Permalink | Source

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By Joon Soh
Staff Reporter
A 180-degree turnaround from the teenage flicks flooding the theaters in recent months, "Kodogi Momburichilddae (Sweet Sixties)" is a new comedy that puts the spotlight on an older generation of actors. In a rare occasion, established actors like Joo Hyun and Song Jae-ho, once given top billings but now relegated to supporting roles, are given a chance to shine again.

But what could have been a celebration of the twilight years, a Korean equivalent of "Cocoon" or "On Golden Pond" perhaps, turns out to suffer from the same lack of urgency that can be felt in many domestic comedies. Without a strong plot or direction, "Sweet Sixties," about the lives of friends and family members in a remote port village, tries unsuccessfully to take what should be fodder for a decent television drama and turn it into a feature-length film.

The film comprises various relationships that all revolve around three old friends: Chung-dal (Joo), an owner of an ostrich farm; Pil-guk (Song), a fisherman; and Chan-kyong (Yang Taek-jo), who runs a cornerstore when not fighting with his wife.

Lacking a central story, the film seems to make do with having a generous number of smaller ones. The little vignettes include an ongoing search for spouses for Pil-guk's younger brother, a "Grumpy Old Men" style battle between Pil-guk and his neighbor, the arrival of a divorcee to the town, ostriches running loose at night and ladies underwear disappearing off laundry lines. Each of the stories and the relationships within them seem interesting, if a bit predictable, but as the film runs out of time before it can delve into them with any kind of depth, the audience never gets to find out.

The languid pace in which these various stories unfold is fine for the small screen, which tends to mull over plot twists for weeks or even months at a time; it can be argued that the pace suits the leisurely village life of the film's sexagenarians. But a feature film takes place in a limited time span and requires a different visual language altogether _ a fact that, incomprehensibly, some local directors seem to conveniently forget.

But if there's one thing that "Sixties" has going for it, it's the stellar cast. The actors, mostly in their 60s and most of whom will be recognizable to anyone who has watched a movie or a television drama in the past 30 years, shows a comfort level with one another that brings a pleasure to each scene. Even the younger performers, including 48-year-old Park Young-kyu, 35-year-old Jin Hee-kyung and nine-year-old Lee Se-young, are in top form and keep up admirably with the older crowd.

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