Tae-il (Hong Isaac) is a talented musician who has begun to become disenchanted with the industry as he struggles to get his big break. Returning to his hometown, he reconnects with former bandmate Ji-won (Jang Ha-eun), who now works as a music teacher, and begins to help a group of students prepare their rock band for a local contest. His time away allows him to reignite both his spark for music and his friendship, but everything is put on the line when Tae-il finally gets the chance he’s been dreaming of.
Director Shim Chan-yang’s Da Capo is South Korea’s answer to Inside Llewyn Davis meets School of Rock. While it may lack the sophistication of the former and the outright energy of the latter, Chan-yang’s film nevertheless outshines its peers when it comes to delivering a tender and heartfelt tale. This flick frames itself as a standard underdog battle of the band’s story, but really it explores the connections that music creates between people – and it does so to exhilarating effect.
The picture is at its best whenever Isaac and Ha-eun share the screen. The pair’s chemistry is pure and palpable and instantly gives viewers a sense of their long and complicated history without them needing to talk about it. It’s in the music that everything that really matters is said. Every note, every chord progression, every beat is rich with the warmth and passion which the duo teach to their students. A humorous guitar battle between Ha-eun and a speed-obsessed pupil is a reminder that playing an instrument is about more than image and virtuosity; it’s about control and meaning.
The songs are just as joyous as everything else the feature has to offer. A mix of upbeat rock anthems and laidback ballads, the soundtrack is reason enough for music lovers to pay attention. More importantly, the songs are the beating heart of everything the movie is about. You don’t need to speak Korean to understand every ounce of emotion behind the lyrics. Rounding things off with one last spectacular showstopper, the film ends on a sincere and genuinely touching conclusion that marks Da Capo as something truly special that’s worth revisiting time and time again.
Da Capo does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Glasgow Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Glasgow Film Festival website here.