This comedy drama film is based on the 4 volume Boy Love Manga series Antique Bakery by Yoshinaga Fumi and centres around four young men who work in a bakery that sells appetising if not mouth watering cakes.
The Antique staff
Kim Jin Hyuk [Ju Ji Hoon] – owner of Antique Bakery. Rich, handsome and clever. Thanks to his family he is able to open a cake shop to attract female customers in order to find a potential lover. However he doesn’t seem too fond of cake.
Min Sun Woo [Kim Jae Wook] – highly skilled patissier who is openly gay and frightened of females. Attended the same secondary school as Jin Hyuk and used to fancy the latter.
Yang Ki Bum [Yoo Ah In] – hot headed youngster who is a former boxing champion. He becomes Sun Woo’s apprentice after tasting Sun Woo’s incredible cakes and vows to learn as much as he can from him.
Nam Soo Young [Choi Ji Ho] – tall, strong bodyguard of Jin Hyuk who often hides his eyes behind sunglasses. Soo Young is rather clueless and clumsy which frustrates Jin Hyuk and Ki Bum.
On the outside these four unique guys seem jolly, polite and charming to the predominantly female customers who walk into the attractive cake shop by the name of Antique. What not many realise however is that each person has a dark past – all of which are slowly revealed bit by bit.
I haven’t read the original Manga or watched the Anime so I cannot compare them to this live action adaptation but I am now inspired to read the Manga after watching the film so I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a lot more detail included, as the author must have had the opportunity to evenly spread out her story ideas in each volume where required.
The Korean cast do a very good job at portraying the very different personalities of the four characters and are able to realistically show both their insecurities and strengths. Fans of Goong will recognise Ju Ji Hoon as the leading character Jin Hyuk, who provides a lot of narration that dabbles with him trying to find out about his past but also gives the viewer insight to his thoughts on how to make the bakery a successful business.
Given this is a film about a cake shop you cannot ignore the stunning cakes that make an appearance at Antique. They have French names, all of which I cannot remember from the top of my head -and I used to study the language- but their presentation, the colours and the endless zoom ups of each plate make this a serious cake paradise. Of course the men are genuine eye-candy however the cakes are where it’s at. I could not see myself eating this much cake in one go but one might not be able to resist the cakes in the film, regardless of whether they are real cake fans or not. Jin Hyuk says people eat cake because they are happy. Would you agree?
The main thing which prompted me to watch this film, aside from the bright bakery delights, was the gay storyline. I haven’t watched that many gay Asian films aside from Formula 17 and Bishounen so I wanted to see how a Korean director approached homosexuality. Part of me was worried the director would make Sun Woo so feminine or fragile because Kim Jae Wook has physically attractive features.
Sun Woo may be gay but he is not overly effeminate. He is unafraid to show off his sexiness or “demonic charm” as he politely describes himself. I’m pleased a film like this doesn’t overdo it with the super camp gay stereotype and instead shows a character like Sun Woo is a normal human being trying to fit in society and deal with homophobia. Generally I didn’t find the gay aspect camp, even with the gay club scenes and musical numbers, but the director does go with the whole ‘sleeping around’ trait that is often put on the LGBT community. You can get gay couples who aren’t necessarily married and have been together for years. That was my only little gripe while watching.
Korean film trailers
Making of Antique Bakery – definitely check this feature out. As well as show footage during filming, it shows how the cast had to learn how to bake cakes, train in a limited time on how to look and act like a professional patissier or waiter but also learn French.
Antique Bakery has its fun moments. There is plenty of comedy but it balances well with the angst the main characters are trying to conceal from the public. Highly recommended…especially for cake lovers.