Seen in Jeonju

Boys of Tomorrow (2007)

10th October 2009

boys of tomorrowBoys of Tomorrow is the second film by director Noh Dong-seok who had debuted with My Generation in 2004.  Like his first film, Boys of Tomorrow looks at the struggles of youth living in poor environs, trying to find their place in the world. In My Generation, Noh examined a couple battling futilely to stay afloat financially while holding onto their dreams. In Boys of Tomorrow, he looks at a family of brothers just trying to survive.  The dreams of the brothers..or more accurately half brothers…are simple.  The youngest, Yo-han, only wants his mother to come home.  She had left just a little while ago and Yo-han’s severely depressed father has been looking for her. He even manages to locate her, but had not yet summoned the courage to ask her to come back saying that it is his life that is the problem. The father is rarely present in the film, and when he is there he is just one more person for the oldest boy, Ki-soo, to take care of. 

Ki-soo has several dreams of his own. First and foremost he wants to take care of and protect his family–not necessarily in a physical, think-with-his-fists kind of way, though he is able to fight if necessary– it is his very presence that offers protection and stability to the family. Frequently throughout the film his brothers will sob on his shoulders and turn to him for protection. There is a memorable shot (later repeated in the film with different characters) where vigilant Ki-soo has this youngest brother asleep on his lap while his other brother, also asleep, is leaning on him.  Ki-soo also has dreams outside the family..he wants to be a drummer and he even gives drum lessons. But that becomes less important to him as his family takes priority. He even tells his brother Jong-dae that ‘you are my dream. You are more important than I’

Jong-dae is the black sheep of the family. Deeply troubled, slightly wild and scarred with a humiliating childhood injury caused by Ki-soo, Jong-dae yearns for one thing. Power. He wants to be someone that he sees as important. And the most important person in the town is a relatively small time gang boss who had an affair with Jong-dae’s mother in the past. Jong-dae tells the gangster that he wants to be like him and among the reasons that he cites is ‘because you are kind.’  This is clearly not true though Jong-dae is blind to that at first as he looks for a father-figure beyond his brother. It is true that Ki-soo, mostly motivated by guilt, would do anything for Jong-dae and their neighbors often ask him if he is tired of cleaning up after the messes his brother causes. But Ki-soo never thinks about giving up on his brother and would deny him nothing. The proof in that is when Jong-dae asks him for a gun which he saw for sale in a back alley. Jong-dae decides that this gun is his dream–and he cannot live without it. This gun, he feels, is what will make him a man.

I have to say that I liked this movie quite a bit especially because of the charater of Ki-soo played by Kim Byeong-seok.  Kim is the same actor who played the leading man in Noh’s My Generation.  Looking at the cast list, I saw that his co-stars have been in or are making many other films. Even young Lee Dong-ho who played Yo-han has had other parts including as the little boy in The Host. But Kim has only been in Noh’s work so far. I was mystified as I consider his acting to be the best parts of both films. He brings a believabilty to the roles and a strength that comes quietly from the inside rather than from loud posturing. In short, I think he is an excellent actor. So I was a little surprised to find an news blurb from 2004 that stated Kim has not yet decided whether he wants to be an actor.  I, for one, hope that he does come to a decision soon and starts taking more parts. He has the potential to be one of the greats.

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