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Asian cinema: Korean films

Keys to the Heart film review: Lee Byung-hun, Park Jung-min play estranged brothers in engrossing Korean comedy-drama

As predictable as the heart-warming plot may be, director Choi Sung-hyun has created a captivating film about a man who is reunited with his estranged mother, and subsequently, his autistic half-brother he never knew he had

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2018, 7:03pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2018, 7:02pm

3.5/5 stars

It may be a mild spoiler to note that emotive topics such as domestic abuse, autism, and terminal cancer are all peppered throughout the story of Keys to the Heart. However, the real surprise of this Korean comedy-drama, directed by first-timer Choi Sung-hyun and produced by blockbuster director JK Youn ( Ode to My Father ), stems from the lightness of touch that is brought to this potentially depressing premise. This is one of the most entertaining Korean films I’ve seen in recent times.

Soon after washed-up boxer Jo-ha (Lee Byung-hun) is fired from his job for his uncontrollable temper, the middle-aged loser is coincidentally reunited with his long-lost mother, In-sook (Youn Yuh-jung), who left Jo-ha and his violent father when he was a teenager. Eager for a free place to crash, but still holding onto a grudge against his ageing mother, Jo-ha must also learn to live with – and care for – Jin-tae (Park Jung-min), his autistic half-brother that he’s never met.

While the outcomeis predictable, Keys to the Heart does engage with its uniformly likeable cast, as well as Choi’s seamless ability to weave melodramatic revelations into the plot. Coincidence plays a huge part in the storyline; consider the fact that Jin-tae is a piano prodigy who happens to idolise an acquaintance that Jo-ha has just made. Despite this, there’s no denying the emotional power of this well-executed drama, right up to its poignant climax at a concert hall.

Keys to the Heart opens on April 5

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