In 2013, Infinite went on a grand world tour. And I guess because these guys are pretty much on camera all the time, apparently there was enough random backstage footage lying around that director Kim Jin-soo-II was able to splice together a full documentary, complete with interviews from the band members. Collected in a large number of mostly unrelated vignettes, "GROW: Infinite's Real Youth Life" tells the story of what Infinite is like when they're not performing.
Just to make it clear, there's never really any music. There's brief outlines of it sometimes. I imagine fans are familiar with the set that begins with the band members' silhouettes chained up, but I personally don't have any idea what's supposed to happen after that. On some level the documentary probably deserves credit for not being too explicit an advertisement. It's obvious that anyone watching this movie should already know everyone in Infinite, given that it doesn't even bother identifying which band member is which with subtitles. Consequently, the only band members I could consistently identify were Nam Woohyun (because he appeared on "High School - Love On") and Sungjong (because he's very cute).
It really doesn't matter though. Whoever your favorite member of Infinite is they're going to have plenty of screen time here where they don't necessarily talk about big stress in life so much as they do just what it's like to perform all the time. And for the most part their attitude is fairly chipper. Infinite genuinely seems to enjoy the work that they do. What's more, they're always acting fairly upbeat and playful.
Normally at this point I'd be suspicious that the production company is trying to sell an image. Oddly enough, it's here that the largely fragmentary construction of the documentary works to the greater favor of the message. Infinite's members are convincingly casual here mainly because it's obvious that they're so used to being constantly recorded on film that they don't actually even pay attention to the camera anymore. From their perspective it's more useful to pay attention to people- given that they're live performers, this is a good attitude to have.
While Infinite obviously doesn't represent all of K-Pop, "GROW: Infinite's Real Youth Life" does a good job demonstrating why K-Pop is so popular worldwide. Most of the time the performers are just really good at being affable and friendly people who you would actually want to spend time with. Contrast someone like Justin Bieber, who seems to make a point of antagonizing nearly every single person he runs in to for no apparent reason.
Of course, I'm no expert on the subject- my impressions of pop music tend to be fairly shallow ones. But I do know quite a bit about film, and on that front, I can promise Infinite fans that this documentary is probably everything you're hoping for in terms of getting a closer, more intimate look at your favorite idols. While this obviously limits the documentary's appeal to pretty much everyone else, I don't think Infinite would mind that reaction too much. As presented here, they're too laid back and focused on their fans to bother with lofty discussions of art form.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Film Review] "GROW: Infinite's Real Youth Life""
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