‘C’est Si Bon’ is a retro film failure
But it has been a different story for “C’est Si Bon,” directed by Kim Hyun-seok. The movie resurrects the legendary music hall of the same name from the 70s and the singers who performed their acoustic folk songs there.
Since its release on Feb. 5, it has had a lackluster performance, barely selling 1.6 million tickets to bring in 10 billion won ($8 million) and was in sixth place at the daily box office on Thursday.
It was reported that it would break even at 3 million viewers, but the film is only halfway to reaching that goal three weeks after opening.
But why has “C’est Si Bon” failed to benefit from the retro trend while “Ode To My Father” and “Gangnam Blues” were big hits in the earlier part of the year? Even 1990s pop songs are part of the craze due to the special “Saturday, Saturday, Singers” segment of the MBC variety show “Infinite Challenge.”
Even before that, films like “Architecture 101” and “Sunny” took moviegoers back to the ’90s and were able to hold the interest of both young and older audiences, pulling off a successful box office record.
Film critics say that the lack of completeness in the storyline of “C’est Si Bon” was critical in putting off audiences.
They say that while retro can be charming and generate interest at the beginning, it can’t be the driving force behind the film.
“Concept is important, but the plot is what really matters,” said culture critic Ha Jae-keun.
“If the story is weak, an attractive concept is lost and it seems one-dimensional,” he added, explaining that it is why the film was opened at No. 1 thanks to its appealing concept, but failed to build up hype via word-of-mouth.
The film features characters based on real people, like Song Chang-sik and Yoon Hyung-joo, who are known as the famous folk duo Twin Folio, but it mainly revolves around the love story of two fictional protagonists, Geun-tae and Ja-young, played by Jung Woo and Han Hyo-joo.
Film critic Kang Yoo-jung said that romance was not enough to entice the audience.
“People are watching the romance between the two. But there isn’t anything more than that,” Kang said. “There are no complex emotional lines. People want more than that.”
Kang added that the retro aspect was excessive and seemed like it was meticulously planned out, which hindered the natural flow of the story.
The music, which was expected to be one of the film’s best features, didn’t lift it either.
It is true that Twin Folio’s hit songs like “Wedding Cake” and “White Handkerchief” can be a joy to listen to. But C’est Si Bon singers, including Twin Folio, caused a stir in 2011 when they reappeared after a long hiatus and their tracks have been going viral online since then. So when their music was again used as the main theme in a film, the public wasn’t curious about it anymore.
“People expected something beyond just their songs. But there was nothing. Their songs and the C’est Si Bon material have already been burned out,” Kang said.
Its target audience, therefore, became ambiguous.
“The film is about romance, which mostly appeals to people in their 20s or 30s. But the film goes 40 years back, which means that people who enjoyed those good old days are now in their 60s and 70s. But will these people go to the theater to watch a romance film? It was a sort of a mismatch,” Ha explained.
BY JIN EUN-SOO [firstname.lastname@example.org]