Good Ol’ Review: Kim Yoo Jung and Byeon Woo Seok Power Dreamy, Nostalgic “20th Century Girl”

20th Century Girl Film Review

No spoilers.

Kim Yoo Jung and Byeon Woo Seok deliver pitch perfect performances to power Netflix’s 20th Century Girl (20세기 소녀). The film is a dreamy and nostalgic story of high school friendship and first love. And the chemistry of the two leads help to make director/writer Bang Woo Ri’s screenplay one that immediately endears and draws you in for maximum emotional effect.

20th Century Girl tells the story of Na Bo Ra (Kim Yoo Jung), a high school student in 1999 with a bright, positive personality. When best friend Kim Yeon Doo (Roh Yoon Seo) must leave for New York to undergo heart surgery, she asks Bo Ra to keep an eye on a boy she knows as Baek Hyun Jin (Park Jung Woo) from their school she has fallen in love with. Bo Ra tries to find out as much information about him as possible and e-mails her findings to Yeon Doo. In the process, she meets Hyun Jin’s best friend Poong Woon Ho (Byeon Woo Seok) and the two grow closer and develop feelings for each other.

Things get a bit more complicated, however. Which is definitely not uncommon in the lives of teenagers, even in 1999 Cheongju, South Korea.

And it is that universal experience that allows 20th Century Girl to be accessible and relatable to as wide an audience as possible. For some, the film might remind them of their own high school days. For others (*ahem*raiseshand*cough*), the film might be the romanticized version of high school they never got to live themselves. 😊

The dreamy aura of Bang Woo Ri’s direction is certainly intentional. And it works wonders to heighten the sense of wistful nostalgia that can be so appealing. Being able to immerse yourself in memories, especially ones as romantic and dramatic and fun as those presented in 20th Century Girl, have an almost indescribable, yet compelling effect on the audience.

20th Century Girl‘s story is certainly not the most groundbreaking. There are a lot familiar story beats and even characters that you might have encountered in other similar films and TV series. But that doesn’t lessen the film’s impact. The film’s sincerity and warmth help to hold the story together as well as move it forward toward its emotional climax. Be ready to laugh and cry as the film lands one punch after the other.

20th Century Girl Film Review 20th Century Girl Film Review

Kim Yoo Jung and Byeon Woo Seok are both experienced young actors in many different genres. On their own, or together with their strong chemistry, they have no problem commanding the screen and owning their characters throughout the film. Again, easily helping to endear the characters and the story overall to the audience right from the start. In turn, getting the viewer to have no problem being invested in their story. Even with just over two hours runtime for the film.

20th Century Girl may feel familiar. But its production and performances allow it to be emotionally affecting and thoroughly enjoyable. A nostalgic, romantic and wonderfully dreamy trip down memory lane.

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