The boy from Ipanema (2010) by Kim Kih-hoon

The script is about a boy who’s a surfer and meets a girl at a beach in Busan. Both are heart-broken from their previous relationships and they start to go out and liking each other.


‘’The boy from Ipanema’’ is an indie romantic Korean film directed and written by Kim Kih-hoon and placed in Busan, in South Korea and in Sapporo in Japan. Model/actor Lee Soo-hyuk and actress Kim Min-ji star in the movie, although the names of the characters they portray are never actually mentioned. ‘’The boy from Ipanema’’ has received the Audience Critic’s Award and the Movie Collage Award at the 2010 (11th) Jeonju International Film Festival.

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The script is about a boy who’s a surfer and meets a girl at a beach in Busan.  Both are heart-broken from their previous relationships and they start to go out and liking each other.

The story of the film may seem quite simple from the description: boy meets girl and fall in love. Beyond the simplicity of the story, the movie may be a little bit confusing with the flashbacks and the fantasy elements, especially its first part, before the whole story unfolds. Therefore, the film may needs a careful viewing, but this underlying complexity is what makes it so much appealing.

Another element that makes the production stand out, is the excellent animated scenes, which show an insight of the thoughts and feelings of the boy by means of symbolic conversation with a jellyfish.

Director and writer Kim Kih-hoon, pens a sweet romantic film, which is about two young people that overcome their break-ups and their fears, and meet new love. Kim Kih-hoon shows the first indication that the girl likes the boy in a subtle and smart way, by letting us wonder for a great part of the movie if the girl speaks or not. Only when the boy who was swimming disappeared from her sight, did the girl become extremely worried and spoke the first time, asking some complete strangers if they have seen him.



Moreover, director Kim uses flashbacks to show the differences between an established love-relationship and the beginning of a new relationship. In this way, he reminds us the sweet and sometimes funny and awkward moments of a new relationship e.g. the small awkward gesture of affection by touching the hair to remove a small leaf. These are in contrast to the more intimate moments of the long-term relationship e.g when they tightly cuddle in the bed. In both cases there is no need of extravagant actions to show the love and affection, but simple daily gestures can speak bigger than words.

Another main theme of the film is the fear of finding new love and forgetting a past-love and letting go. The process of completely forgetting past love is indicated in an extraordinary way, by showing the boy in the flashbacks in Sapporo with his ex-girlfriend, while the forgetting of his past love is done by replacing her physical characteristics (but note, not the character) with the physical appearance of the girl he met at the beach. Kim Kih-hoon shows a clear answer to the question that arises of what is preferable, to forget completely a past-love and meet new-love or to continue to remember the past-love and at the same time to fear to from new love relationships.



 ‘’The boy from Ipanema’’ is a slow paced film with an open-ending of the type ‘’is this a dream or not?’’At first glance, it may leave us with a pessimistic feeling, but the final message of the film can also be interpreted as a positive one: The boy finally finds the small door in the deep sea that leads to other people’s dreams and especially to the dreams of the girl who can now have a good sleep and dream. Kim Kih-hoon uses this brilliant ending to leave the viewer with an optimistic note: even though some relationships do not have the ending that we want, they can also offer us other important outcomes.

‘’Boy from Ipanema’’ is the first film that Lee Soo-hyuk stars and being also a model with a good physique was a plus for this role, since he plays a surfer in the film. Beyond his good physical appearance, Lee Soo-hyuk showed a good potential as an actor and his distinguished, deep voice was pleasant to hear during his voice-over and conversation with the jellyfish.  I will look forward to watch him in more films in the future and not only in TV series, which he chooses to make the last years.

Kim Min-ji also does quite a good job of portraying the quiet and shy girl who meets the boy at the beach on the one hand, and the full of energy past girlfriend of the boy on the other hand. Furthermore, she has a good chemistry with Lee Soo-hyuk. She also appears in TV series currently and I would also like to see her in more movies.

Technically the film is very good, while Choi Se-kyu's cinematography highlights the beauty of Busan and Sapporo.

Sometimes the simplest films, plot-wise, can be the best ones, especially in terms of the messages they deliver and this is the case with the ‘’The boy from Ipanema’’.



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Asian Film Vault: The boy from Ipanema (2010) by Kim Kih-hoon
The boy from Ipanema (2010) by Kim Kih-hoon
The script is about a boy who’s a surfer and meets a girl at a beach in Busan. Both are heart-broken from their previous relationships and they start to go out and liking each other.
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