Lead actor Shin Hyun-Jun made this 100 minute comedy drama so much more than what the based-upon-true-story plot could have offered its audience. Irrefutably the vessel of inspiration in the film, Shin kept us deeply entrenched with his lively act onscreen that could not have been any more remarkable than what he had shown us with his heartfelt performance.
Gi-bong is the village 'fool' who runs barefoot to serve his mother with food before it gets cold. Running is Gi-Bong' greatest skill, and it is his mother that Gi-bong loves the most. Gi-bong decides to take part in a Half Marathon in order to provide for his mother with the prize money. With the Village-Head behind him, Gibong training efforts slowly transforms people's perception and the village.
One of the actor-driven films, which were often undermined for some reasons. Barefoot Gibong reminded us how important actors are to any film production and the potential difference that one or more excellent actors could make.
This could very likely be Shin Hyun-Jun's finest performance of his career.
With the film's premise, nothing was overly complicated and left to simplicity. Likely to be attributed to its "based upon a true story" tagline that featured at the beginning, the story allowed for a fundamental platform for key characters to drive the show on.
Right from the start, Gi-bong instilled pure laughter that came from our hearts. Gi-bong's child-like demeanour towards daily life not only placed a smile across our faces, but also a seed of inspiration within our hearts.
Albeit being socially awkward in terms of his behavioural habits, Gi-bong's optimism towards life was likely to be second to none. Well, at least within his village. In no way did he once feel inferior about his unfitting presence in his village, instead he was happy and proud of who he is what he could offer to the people around him.
A natural giver who never seeks return, and a taker who reciprocates with a bow of appreciation.
Call him a Mummy's boy for all you might like to, but nobody could deny his pure heart of simple bliss and kindness. While others would worry and fret about life's little pebbles of woes, Gi-bong would embrace them with a smile and see the brighter side of all affairs.
At times, I do question if there were truly moments when his smile was merely a masking facade. After all, everybody would have their low moments in life. Scenes after scenes, I was being convinced further by Shin's impeccable act that the happiness Gi-bong was experiencing was so real that it radiated to the audience.
We would feel for him regardless of situations. I find myself chuckling at his innocent deeds, despairing when he's down, celebrating when he's overwhelmed with joy. Like what was briefly hinted in the film, we would question on who would be the real "fool". Gi-bong or us.
Despite certain inevitable elements of melodrama, Gi-bong's heartfelt performance truly inspired the audience to reconsider certain elements in life. His constant running about wasn't just a symbol of energy and enthusiasm towards life, but also a mental attitude of constantly moving forward regardless of what happens as well as a sense of freedom in doing what he fancies.
Perhaps we should try and take a step back (although Gi-bong's constantly on the run relentlessly throughout the film) to pay attention and rediscover the finer details of life.
Much like how we used to as toddlers before adult complications.