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[HanCinema's Film Review] "Beautiful Tomorrow"

2017/11/11 | Permalink

I hesitate to call "Beautiful Tomorrow" a film, or even a musical film, because that implies a degree of narrative cohesion rather beyond its contents. "Beautiful Tomorrow" is really more like an extended music video featuring all the songs from Park Hyo-shin's latest album, "I Am a Dreamer". The very loose framing device for these videos is Park Hyo-shin and his music director Jung Jae-il going to Cuba and befriending a street urchin by the name of Edgar Quintero.

Park Hyo-shin did indeed go to Cuba in real life, presumably for the purpose of making all these music videos, but the story here is obvious embellishment. Initially I thought director Jang Jae-hyuk was going for a Charles Dickens vibe, given that Edgar Quintero is a harmless moppet who's forced to work in a vaguely criminal youth-oriented bead selling enterprise. By the end, though, we're in full-on Horatio Alger territory as Park Hyo-shin uses his powers of being rich to improve Edgar Quintero's life.

Although really, more than old literature the main relevant narrative here is just poverty tourism in general. That's the fantasy where someone from somewhere well-off makes a serious difference in the life of some poor person from some poorer less fortunate country. I'm a little surprised the Cuban Tourism Ministry was willing to cooperate in the production of a movie that makes their country look like a cesspool of pickpockets but whatever. It works for the Indians, why not the Cubans?

But never mind that, if you're watching "Beautiful Tomorrow" it's for the music, not the story. And in point of fact the music in "Beautiful Tomorrow" is very very good. There's an achingly sad nostalgic quality to Park Hyo-shin's voice. His songs make reference to a lonely time in life before he knew love, and it's not clear whether he actually has love in the present day, but the experience of that love has made his life seem brighter.

The universal statement in that sentiment is actually quite strong because really, while the assumption is that the song is referring to romantic love, it's actually not even referring to love at all. The implication is just that Park Hyo-shin is expressing himself in the light of transformative life experiences, and the songs are a kind of gratitude being expressed to whoever is responsible for giving him that sense of awareness. That force could be a woman, God, or a dog. It's all A Matter of Interpretation.

Why, that force could even be that random guy from a foreign country who helped you busk in the street, took you out for a nice dinner, and gave you a present to remember him by. Huh. When I describe the story like that "Beautiful Tomorrow" not only sounds horribly trite but also uncomfortably creepy. Still, the visuals of the story achieve the main intended purpose of providing a nice backdrop for the very excellent music. So what if it doesn't stand up to critical scrutiny? I don't watch music videos for the plot and neither should you.

Review by William Schwartz

"Beautiful Tomorrow" is directed by Jang Jae-hyuk and features Park Hyo-shin and Jung Jae-il.

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