Just by watching the trailer of South Korean film My Brilliant Life, you know you'll need to get your tissues ready. This time, though, it's not cancer, nor is it about another pair of star-crossed lovers to cry over.
Dae-su (Kang Dong-won) and Mira (Song Hye-kyo) were only 17 when they gave birth to their son, Ah-reum (Jo Sung-mok). He suffers from progeria, a rare genetic disease that causes him to age 10 times faster than ordinary people.
As the loving young parents struggle to provide for their son, now 16 and at the end of his life, he begins to work on a farewell gift to his parents. This sad story soon gets the audience sniffling, although props must be given to the director for not making the plot too dramatic.
The biggest highlight is 13-year-old Jo's brilliant portrayal of Ah-reum. A first-time actor who endured four hours of make-up every day, Jo shows the curiosity and innocence of a teenager while acting like a old man battered by illness and his own insecurity. His optimism and love make the character an object not just of sympathy, but also respect. This film is a sharp reminder of how fleeting youth is.