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Marathon

A 20-year-old autistic kid brings validation to his own and others' lives in "Marathon," a potential multi-hanky weepy that's given a restrained sense of dignity by the performances and direction. Modest first feature by director Jung Yoon-cheol was a surprise hit on local release in February. But outside Asia, pic will have minimum legs.

With:
With: Jo Seung-woo, Kim Mi-suk, Lee Gi-yeong, Baek Seong-hyeon, Ahn Nae-sang, Kim Seon-jae.

A 20-year-old autistic kid brings validation to his own and others’ lives in “Marathon,” a potential multi-hanky weepy that’s given a restrained sense of dignity by the performances and direction. Modest first feature by director Jung Yoon-cheol was a surprise hit on local release in February, garnering socko 5 million-plus admissions (around $30 million) against flashier competition for this year’s No. 1 spot in South Korea to date. But outside Asia, and maybe Latin territories, pic will have minimum legs.

Standout perf comes not so much from Jo Seung-woo as the handicapped Cho-weon, but from Kim Mi-suk as his mother, Gyeong-suk, whose quiet dedication to her elder son — at the expense of her younger one (Baek Seong-hyeon) — fuels the movie. Opening two reels sketch her day-to-day travails dealing with Cho-weon’s autism in scenes that play with surprising lightness. Main story starts when Cho-weon is a young man and Gyeong-suk convinces a former marathon runner (played with weary professionalism by Lee Gi-yeong) to coach her son in long-distance running. Bonding between coach and kid reveals a selfish side to mom’s apparent selflessness that drives the second half. Tech package is clean throughout.

Marathon

South Korea

Production: A Showbox, Mediaplex release and presentation of a Cineline II production. (International sales: Showbox, Seoul.) Produced by Seok Myeong-hong. Executive producer, Kim Woo-taek. Directed by Jung Yoon-cheol. Screenplay, Yun Jin-ho, Song Hye-jin, Jung.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Gweon Hyeok-jun; editor, Han Seong-weon; music, Kim Jun-seong; art director, Lee Geun-ah. Reviewed on videocassette, London, June 28, 2005. (In New York Asian Film Festival.) Running time: 116 MIN.

With: With: Jo Seung-woo, Kim Mi-suk, Lee Gi-yeong, Baek Seong-hyeon, Ahn Nae-sang, Kim Seon-jae.

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