It is still a Tuesday and my exploration for some good content across the globe is still underway. With that, I finished watching the new Korean film Dream, which is now streaming on Netflix. Sports dramas are probably the most tricky to execute given that they usually follow a fixed template of typical underdogs eventually triumphing against the tournament champions. And often, there is a sense of predictability that sets in the proceedings which then results in a diluted product overall. As far as Dream was concerned, I was split on what to expect from the drama. On one hand, I was curious given that South Korea is known to produce some enthralling sports dramas that usually go beyond sports, I was also skeptical given the limitation of the genre. So then does Dream manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Based on an incredible true story from 2010, Dream follows the story of a banned footballer who is tasked to coach a group of misfits for the upcoming Soccer World Cup for the Homeless. Will he inspire the team to perform to their potential? The story here is heartwarming given that it is based on a true event. Yet, the writers do well in deviating from the fixed template of a sports drama by introducing dollops of humour particularly in the first hour that makes you fall in love with the underdogs. The screenplay standing at a shade above 2 hours does make for a roller-coaster of emotions that leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling with a tear in your eye and a smile on your face!
The drama begins on a slightly sluggish note with the introduction of the protagonist who is shown to be a football player who is bearing his own cross in his personal life. I say sluggish because you aren’t aware of the emotional baggage being carried by the protagonist and so it becomes a little difficult to sympathize with him straight up! Soon that turns into outrage and he is suspended from the national team. As a remedy, he is asked to coach a team which is soon to depart to play the Soccer World Cup for the homeless. And this is where the various conflicts are introduced by the writers that add a lot of humour to the proceedings.
The proceedings are enjoyable wherein I found myself invested in the drama and its varied characters that add a refreshing new dimension to an otherwise stale genre. The writers do well in providing back stories to most members of the team, but they do so in a very quirky manner. What seemed like an emotional journey for most of the characters, was mostly accompanied with dollops of humour that did put a smile on my face. What this did was that I was genuinely distracted from the undercurrents of the cliched sports template of a bunch of misfits entering the tournament as underdogs.
There are a few subplots which are emotional but the subplot involving the mother of the protagonist was surprisingly low on emotions. But the fun begins in the final 40 odd minutes when the tournament is kicked off. What begins on a predictable note(for all underdog teams), soon turns into something inspirational and infectious! It was a frivolous start with the usual tropes of comedy integrated in the games. But kudos to the writers for penning a memorable character arc for the characters that allows the drama to transition to something beyond sports. It was free of all the short-sighted cliches and definitely focused on the larger picture. The saying of ‘Sports teaching you the way of life’ or even ‘Friendship in sports being beyond boundaries’ is so well explored that it did make me shed a few tears. The finale was rousing and bubbling with positivity that filled me up with a lot of emotions which accounted for one of the best endings of a film this year! Overall, the screenplay is well written and definitely scores with its humour and emotions.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are quirky and extremely well written. The lines create a solid impact especially towards the dying minutes of the film. The music scores well too, blending itself perfectly with the drama. The BGM is excellent and heightens the drama at varied places. The cinematography particularly the frames capturing the sport are lovely and I wished the editing was a little sharper with fewer jump cuts, particularly the ones featuring football. The colour grading with brighter use of colours was refreshing to witness too. Director Lee Byeong-heun definitely sets his narration apart from the other unconventional sports drama by infusing it with humour. This was the differentiator that allowed the drama to head in the unconventional direction, and score heavily with its emotions. The direction was good overall.
The performances are splendid here. Jung Seung-kil as Son, Ko Chang-seok as Jeon and Lee Hyun-woo as Kim have their moments to shine. And each of their characters have beautifully woven character arcs which are emotional to the core. Kim Jong-soo as Kim is wonderful to watch as is Lee Ji-hyeon as Jin-joo. Ji-eun Lee as Lee looks pretty and has a charming presence in a job well done. Park Seo-jun as Yoon is simply brilliant and does a wonderful job!
Dream is a heartwarming sports drama that ‘scores’ with its humour and emotions in a very unique manner. Available on Netflix.