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February 14, 2012

Cyrano Agency

Cyrano Agency 1.jpg

Si-ra-no;Yeon-ae-jo-jak-do
Kim Hyeon-seok - 2010
Pre.GM Region 3 DVD

The title gives away only part of the story. If there's anyone who's gotten this far and is asking, "Who's Cyrano?", read the play in the language of your choice, or watch the film version of your choice, and come back later. Anyways, as those familiar with the play can assume, the agency acts on behalf of lovesick, tongue tied men, ultimately getting them together with the women who make their hearts pump faster. But again, that's only part of the story.

The agency is run by a quartet of down on their luck actors. Their tools include not only scripts, but sometime special effects, and even a team of extras. Kim Hyeon-seok is smart enough too take the film beyond the obvious comic premise. Life interrupts, or simply goes against the most well intentioned and thought out script. As anyone familiar with Rostand's play knows, things go badly for everyone at the end. And Christian, the lover who wooed Roxanne with the words by Cyrano, is shown some sympathy.

Cyrano Agency 2.jpg

The most fun is watching the lengths that the agency goes to in getting two people together. The contemporary Cyrano has replaced whispering from behind some foliage or other hidden place with tiny, undetectable earphone connected to a wireless microphone. Adding to this are strategically placed video cameras. Mere rainfall is augmented by some well placed equipment to create a torrent. And a team of extras dressed as soldiers doing drills comes in handy when a client is being threatened by some gangsters.

It's no surprise that the high technology is very expensive, threatening to undo the agency. The head of the team, Byeong-hoon, finds himself reluctantly playing Cyrano, in a very personal turn of events. At one point, Byeong-hoon, who created the agency to finance a dramatic company, is seen weeping while the Jose Ferrer version of Cyrano De Bergerac plays on TV.

At almost two hours, the film feels a little overlong, with the dramatic portions threatening to wash out the goodwill created by comic first hour. What's best about Cyrano Agency is the humor to be found as when a young woman coughs up a piece of gum from a church balcony, only to have it land in the mouth of a young man, sleeping during a sermon, or when coached to count to ten before that first kiss, a suitor's fingers stop at seven. There is also a bit of magic realism, with bubbles in the air while Greek singer Agnes Baltsa is on the soundtrack with "Aspri mera ke ya mas" (There Will be Better Days). It's a moment where past and present briefly blend in and out, aided by an unexpected choice of music that makes the scene more effective. Cyrano Agency might not be a throwback to the heyday of the screwball romantic comedy, but Kim, like Rostand, understands that comedy is not based simply on "quirky" characters, but people dealing with everyday emotions and foibles.

Posted by peter at February 14, 2012 09:24 AM