When we think of childhood, we imagine laughing, being carefree and smiling. In fact, we often look back at our early years and yearn to bring back that happiness and bliss. But “My Life is Beating,” a recently released movie featuring popular actors, Dong-won Kang and Hye-gyo Song, shows how childhood may not be the ideal state for all. Based on a novel that sold more than 14 million copies in 2003, “My Life is Beating” has topped the weekly box office, with almost 300,000 tickets sold in five days after its release on Sept. 3. The film, labeled the “Chuseok heartthrob” by viewers, attracting another one million viewers during the long weekend.
“My Life is Beating” traces the life of a 16-year old teen diagnosed with Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome, a rare genetic condition that causes rapid aging in children. The child, Ah-reum Han, played by actor Sung-mok Han, has an innocent heart of a 16-year old but the physique of an 80-year old. To add onto such problems, the boy’s parents are only in their early twenties, working multiple jobs in attempt to pay off their child’s expensive hospital bills. Because Hye-gyo works at the dry cleaner shop and Dong-won works as a bodyguard, Sung-mok is oftentimes left alone at the hospital. Even though the family runs into financial debacles throughout the film, the fact that everyone continues to smile and stay optimistic truly inspires viewers and reminds them of the importance of family, a lesson that suits Chuseok.
Furthermore, Hye-gyo’s stellar acting in this film deserves praise. Though Korean movie fans are more accustomed to seeing this actress come to life in romantic comedy films, Hye-gyo’s acting in “My Life is Beating” made the movie more touching and meaningful. Putting aside her usual bubbly and feminine persona, she fully embodied her caring and motherly character, evoking tears of sadness and joy in viewers. While Hye-gyo was involved in various scandals prior to the movie’s release, her acting should be extolled regardless of such news. Actor Sung-mok Han was also able to break into the Korean acting sphere as a young actor and is now expected to appear in numerous upcoming films.
The acting of minor actors also made this film shine. Grandpa Jang, played by Il-Seob Baek, was an important character in the film, serving as one of Ah-reum’s main mentors and companions. Grandpa Jang and Ah-reum both looked like they were in their eighties, making both characters naturally connect and interact like true friends. The kindness and concern that Ah-reum’s doctor greeted him with was also very touching. Despite mutual knowledge that Ah-reum would soon pass away, the doctor is genuinely proud of his patient’s attempt to live the life of a normal teenager.
The overall plot of this movie can be slow for some viewers. The movie seems to be dragging on slowly, only using up time. Also, the plot somewhat resembles the story of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” a popular fantasy movie from 2008 that tracks the life of Benjamin Button, the main character who ages backwards, making “My Life is Beating” very repetitive. However, the meaning that can be derived from this film is important and especially fitting to this time of year. Thoughtful and sensitive acting as well as a well-developed, meaningful story gave way to an important lesson about family and optimism, making this movie one of the leading films during the Chuseok weekend.