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Beautiful setting but dull plot in ‘Santa Barbara’

July 17,2014
A combination of an exotic locale, good cuisine and a glass of wine in a romance film sounds like a visual feast for viewers.

And when the destination is Santa Barbara, the beautiful, laid-back city situated on the West Coast of California, expectations especially mount up.

However, in Cho Sung-kyu’s “Santa Barbara,” these magical components don’t work very well.

Even when a love story between bubbly actors like Lee Sang-yun and Yoon Jin-seo is added to the mix, there is no driving force to get the plot rolling.

The relationship between Jung-woo (Lee), a music director who barely makes ends meet, and Soo-kyung (Yoon), a successful account executive, begins when the two agree to work on a big commercial project together.

During the preparation process, they end up as a couple after one tipsy night. But when Jung-woo makes a critical mistake that damages the project, the relationship ends and they return to single life.

A few years later, however, the two meet again as business partners and go on a working trip to Santa Barbara.

And of course, once they arrive in the sunny coastal city, which is well known for its gorgeous beaches and renowned wineries, their romance reignites.

The most noticeable scene throughout is a kiss the couple share inside a Santa Barbara winery with a gleaming sunset in the background.

And although it would have been better if the romantic scene lasted longer, the striking scenery was undoubtedly impressive.

But that was just about it.

The film’s director, Cho, said he took the movie’s main motif from the wine-inspired Hollywood film “Sideways” (2004), which is also set in Santa Barbara’s wine country.

Cho said during a press screening on July 9 that he hopes the movie will be a chance for Koreans to get to know the U.S. city.

But aside from the dire story development, there wasn’t much to look at in the depiction of the Southern California coastal city either.

The actors may have enjoyed Santa Barbara, as Lee and Yoon both talked about how wonderful they thought the city was while they were there, but their heart-bursting experience did not translate onto the silver screen at all.

Or maybe the film’s tediousness was intended from the start to reflect the city’s placid ambience.

The film opened in local theaters on yesterday.


BY Jin eun-soo contributing writer [janna924@joongang.co.kr]




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