Korean Movie Review – My Paparoti (파파로티)

While watching reality TV, we often forget that if we look past the attention-craving car-wrecks who often appear on TV talent shows, there are some genuinely talented individuals out there. One such story is that of Kim Ho-joong, a teenager who quit the thug lifestyle after his grandmother told him to pursue his real passion — singing. His unusually touching circumstances are the inspiration for Yoon Jong-chan’s 2012 release “My Paparotti.”

In this interpretation, Sang-jin (Han Seok-kyu) is an uptight music teacher with a short temper and Jang-ho (Lee Jae-hoon) is a teenage thug who has been transferred to Sang-jin’s school. Despite Jang-ho’s gangster lifestyle, he has a gift and, behind the bravado, dreams of becoming an opera singer like his hero, Pavoratti. At first, Sang-jin is reluctant, but once he realizes Jang-ho’s passion is sincere, he agrees to take him on as his protégé and train him for a prestigious singing competition happening later that year. But with Jang-ho’s lifestyle constantly interfering with his dreams, he must make a choice between his brothers who raised him and the music teacher who believes in him more than anyone else.

I thoroughly enjoyed “My Paparotti,” and the thing that impressed me most was the chemistry between the two lead actors; I was captivated every time they were on screen. I’ve admired Han Seok-kyu for a long time, and if Lee Jae-hoon’s compatibility with his talented colleague is any indication, I’d bet he has a promising career ahead of him.

There’s no getting around how cheesy the film is at times, and it definitely tries hard at manipulating the heartstrings. But because of the way the story builds and the relationships between its characters develop (from the teachers and students who are the comic relief to the gangsters who create tension for the film’s conclusion), you genuinely care for the welfare of Jang-ho and want him to achieve his dreams. I should confess that I may have gotten teary-eyed during a few sequences, particularly the finale with its rousing rendition of “Nessun Dorma.” I usually have a heart of stone, so that just goes to show how much I liked “My Paparotti.”

Categories: Reviews

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