Cyrano Agency 시라노; 연애조작단
Contemporary romantic comedy
2010, colour, 2.35:1, 117 mins
Directed by Kim Hyun-seok (김현석 | 金炫錫)
By Derek Elley
Wed, 16 March 2011, 23:40 PM (HKT)
Clever rom-com centred on a matchmaking agency has likable characters and is also very well written. Asian and genre events, plus niche TV
Seoul, the present day. Lovelorn Kim Hyeon-gon (Song Sae-byek), who has fallen for coffee shop worker Seon-a (Ryu Hyeon-gyeong), learns about Cyrano Agency, a small organisation set up by theatre actor Lee Byeong-hun (Eom Tae-ung) that claims 100% success in making people fall in love. Kim signs on, and the Cyrano team — Byeong-hun's onetime drama student Min-yeong (Park Shin-hye), plus older Cheol-bin (Park Cheol-min) and younger Jae-pil (Jeon A-min) — set to work, constructing elaborate scenarios in which Seon-a is the unwitting target and feeding lines to Hyeon-gon through an earpiece. The operation is a success, but Cyrano Agency needs more clients as its finances are perilous. Their next client is fund manager Lee Sang-yong (Daniel Choi), who has fallen for Kim Hui-jung (Lee Min-jeong), a young woman he met at church. Byeong-hun is not keen on taking the case, as it turns out that Hui-jung is an ex-girlfriend of his. Unwillingly he agrees, and things initially go smoothly between Sang-yong and Hui-jung; but then Byeong-hun's personal feelings start to get in the way of business.
Easily the smoothest and best written rom-com from South Korea since Scandal Makers 과속스캔들 (2008), and with equally likable characters, Cyrano Agency 시라노; 연애조작단 (2010) recalls the great days of Korean romantic comedies and dramas around the turn of the century. Director KIM Hyun-seok 김현석 | 金炫錫 (YMCA Baseball ＹＭＣＡ 야구단 (2002), When Romance Meets Destiny 광식이 동생 광태 (2005)) has been writing scripts since the mid-'90s, and his experience shows in the deftly drawn characters and the way in which the screenplay holds together multiple strands without losing sight of the film's main emotional arc. The film's opening 15 minutes — showing the matchmaking agency of the title doing its high-tech thing on a case — is only an introduction to the main story and character: theatre actor Lee Byeong-hun, engagingly played by EOM Tae-ung 엄태웅 | 嚴泰雄 (the victim in thriller Hand Phone 핸드폰 (2009), and the policeman in monster-hog movie Chaw 차우 (2009)), whose past love-life is embarrassingly resurrected when he is hired to make his ex-girlfriend fall for a client.
The way in which Kim's script gradually incorporates Byeong-hun's back and present story into the main narrative is beautifully handled on a structural level. And though the film's slightly slacker mid-section could still be tightened by 10 or so minutes, there is enough going on at any one time for the central idea not to lose its momentum. TV heartthrob Daniel CHOI 최다니엘 is okay as the nervy client, and LEE Min-jeong 이민정 | 李敏貞 (White Night 백야행 (2009)) is better as the woman caught between him and the older Byeong-hun. But one of the best performances comes from TV actress PARK Shin-hye 박신혜 as Byeong-hun's female colleague: a scene in which she pretends to be Byeong-hun's lover lets her (till then slow-burning) performance catch fire, and the film's neat coda ends things on a satisfying note, building on small character details in her earlier scenes.
ContactSales: Finecut, Seoul (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Theatrical release: South Korea, 16 Oct 2010.
Presented by Lotte Entertainment (SK). Produced by Myung Films (SK). Executive producer: Son Gwang-ik. Producer: Shim Jae-myeong.
Script: Kim Hyun-seok. Photography: Kim Wu-hyeong. Editing: Kim Sang-beom, Kim Jae-beom. Music: Kim Tae-seong. Art direction: Kim Jun. Costumes: Choi Ui-yeong. Sound: Eun Hui-su, Kim Seok-won, Park Ju-gang. Visual effects: Jang Seong-ho. Stage production: Kim Ju-gyeong.
Cast: Eom Tae-ung (Lee Byeong-hun), Lee Min-jeong (Kim Hui-jung), Daniel Choi (Lee Sang-yong), Park Shin-hye (Min-yeong), Park Cheol-min (Cheol-bin), Jeon A-min (Jae-pil), Song Sae-byek (Kim Hyeon-gon), Ryu Hyeon-gyeong (Seon-a), Kim Ji-yeong (Yu-mi), Gweon Hae-hyo (Gwon, the company president), Lee Dae-yeon (clergyman, Hui-joong's uncle), Lee Mi-do (So-yun), Kim Il-ung (Dae-hyeon), Lee Mi-so (Mi-su; Roxanne in stage play), Do Yong-gu (church elder), Lee Chang-ju (proposing man), Jang Eun-a (proposing woman), Lee Do-u (target woman), Kim Ju-yeong (Cyrano in stage play), Won Hyeon-jun, Seo Dae-hyeon, Han Dae-ryong (Gweon's heavies) Bae Yun-beom (Byeong-hun's friend), Song Da-eun (yoga instructor), Jo Jae-hyeong (cello player).