Being young and gay can have complications. In the case of Soo-Hyun (Ji Yoon-Ho), a high school kid, he has to hide his intimate relationship with his friend Yong-Joon (Lee Won-Geun) from his Mom. While coming out to parents is nothing new, what makes this movie different is how the young lovers cope with an accident that incapacitates one who may never regain consciousness. Do you stay or do you move on?
Mi-Kyung (Bae Jong-Ok) is a single Mom who raises her son Soo-Hyun alone. It’s presumed that her husband, who works in the Philippines, is having an affair. Soo-Hyun is not too close to her, yet he’s an academic achiever and is never a problem child. One time, he brings home a friend – Yong-Joon – and they share dinner, all three of them. The young Yong-Joon lost his Mom to suicide and appears to have no real familial connection at home. Mi-Kyung becomes a second Mom, breaking the kid’s wall of insecurity with her show of affection and the food she provides him.
The unlikely trio shares milestones together – sending off Soo-Hyun to his mandatory military training and welcoming him back with a familial celebration. The status quo abruptly changes when the two kids are involved in a serious car accident. Soo-Hyun is left in a coma while Yong-Joon was relatively unscathed. Mi-Kyung becomes critical of her son’s friend – rejecting his apology and takes her son away to an isolated medical facility.
A lot of scenes could have been sensationalized to gather audience sympathy and tears, yet first-time director Lee Dong-Eun has none of that. He makes good use of subtlety and pushes for understated performances – the mother could have been hysterical learning the accident, or throw tantrums when facing her son’s friend whom she blames for her son’s almost vegetative state. There’s one (and only one) overpowering scene when Yong-Joon cries unashamedly asking for her forgiveness yet again.
The realization that the kids were having an intimate and sexual relationship was relayed in a subtle manner. In one of the film’s highlights, the emotional reactions of the Mom are kept under a tight reign, allowing the gradual release of all the pent-up feelings. As her marriage crumbles, she reconciles her emotional turmoil by accepting Yong-Joon back into the family.
Critically acclaimed actress Bae Jong-Ok serves as the glue that binds these multi-layered relationships together – especially during the slow-paced and painful hospitalization of Soo-Hyun. However, it’s 28-year old Lee Won-Geun who offers a multi-faceted performance that’s never sentimental yet equally dramatic. It is sublime acting!
In his Wiki page, it was indicated that “Won-Geun made his acting debut in Moon Embracing the Sun and is best known for starring in Cheer Up! as well as the film Misbehavior.” It fails to mention that he plays gay in this small, yet significant full-length feature. Well, we will have none of that, and declares this popular actor with what he deserves!
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars [See our Review Guide]
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