Monday, April 28, 2014

Review: Marathon (2005)

Marathon (Review)
Jeong Yoon-cheol/Jo Seung-woo/2005
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...a deeply emotional and inspirational story, with a beautiful message about people..."

The inspirational true story of Cho-won (Jo Seung-woo), an autistic young man, who finds a release in running and plans on running a full marathon.

Marathon follows Cho-won's young life as he prepares to run a full marathon in under three hours -- a goal set by his loving yet seemingly over-attached mother (Kim Mi-sook). Although the main focus of the story is Cho-won and the marathon, Marathon also delves deeply into the family of an autistic young man, society's view and treatment of the autistic, and the deep love between mother and son. To do so, Marathon also follows Cho-won during his everyday life: at the supermarket, on his way home, at a subway, and so on. I found the film to be deeply insightful yet... it also managed to do so in a subtle manner, I didn't feel like it preached. Regardless, Marathon leads to a predictable ending, but that's not necessarily a bad thing; the ending is executed excellently to create a moment of triumph.

Marathon is a biopic sports film. Therefore, Marathon is procedural and by-the-books, like the many sports films that came before it. But, is that really bad? I don't care how many times I've seen a film with the same formula, Marathon manages to deliver a deeply emotional and inspirational story, with a beautiful message about people -- all people are people, handicapped or not, and they should be treated equally. You should know what to expect for the drama: moments of inspirational highs, and moments of tear-jerking lows. I think the drama is further amplified by the lighthearted humor -- I really liked it, it had me with a huge, genuine smile across my face. If you've seen many sports films like this recently, maybe you should wait a bit before watching; but, if you haven't seen a film from the genre recently, this will feel as fresh as ever.

Jo Seung-woo's performance is magnificent -- respectful, honest, and realistic -- a wonderful leading man with great charisma. Kim Mi-sook is also great as the mother, really embodying a worried, loving and attached mother -- it's beautiful to see her go through the motions because it feels so real. The film is shot well, some beautiful scenes; unfortunately, the print on Netflix Instant isn't in high definition so the picture quality is sub par. The soundtrack is also great, but the music does get repetitive by the end: at least they didn't have you listening to scratching chalk boards or Justin Bieber. Jeong Yoon-cheol direction isn't very ambitious, but the story is based on actual events, so he didn't have many options; regardless, he crafts a beautiful and meaningful film.

Overall, Marathon is a deeply emotional and genuinely inspirational sports film. The movie's balanced focus on Cho-win's marathon and personal life is meticulously crafted and blended to have you cheering by the end. Although the music came off as repetitive, it's not enough to stop Marathon from racing past the finish line at number one.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Some violence.

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