Se-ha (played by Shin Ha-kyun) is a surprisingly cynical, shifty guy considering that he's bound to a wheelchair. The opening backstory of "Inseparable Bros" quickly gets into why- Se-ha was dumped at a charity home for the mentally infirm. The chronically alcoholic Father Park (played by Kwon Hae-hyo) accepted Se-ha in exchange for a modest bribe, although oddly enough he's a pretty nice guy. All the same it's Dong-goo (played by Lee Kwang-soo) with whom Se-ha shares a special, brotherly bond.
"Inseparable Bros" is the story of that brotherly bond, and the movie burns through a lot of storylines to get through to that point. In addition to the backstory with the teenage future bros, there's also a con artistry subplot as Se-ha attempts to take over Father Park's patronage, an athletic triumph story as Dong-goo starts to compete in local swimming events, an estrangement storyline as Dong-goo's mom Jeong-soon (played by Gil Hae-yeon) attempts to get back in his life, a huge courtroom storyline about a legal challenge to the relationship between Se-ha and Dong-goo, and then the aftermath of that storyline.
"Inseparable Bros" is a very busy movie- albeit a fantastically well-paced one. "Inseparable Bros" perfectly captures the way life can change for people way faster than seems rational. Se-ha grimaces and bears the inconvenience, as befits his generally cranky character. But Dong-goo is so mentally infirm it's hard to get a grasp on how much of the situation he actually understands. Even Se-ha isn't sure about that a lot of time.
And yet these two unrelated men clearly see one another as brothers and permanent friends. That's what the movie is about through and through-friendship. Abstractly "Inseparable Bros" no doubt sounds incredibly corny- but the beauty of the movie's design is that in between Se-ha general scheming attitude, the sincere frustration characters feel toward Dong-goo's stupidity, and the constant juking about of storylines, this goofiness is mostly unnoticeable.
Mi-hyeon (played by Esom) plays a critical role less by being plot-critical and more by providing a rational confused response eventually snowballing into warm acceptance of the brothers' relationship. Most of the characters in "Inseparable Bros" work along the same trajectory. By challenging the relationship between Se-ha and Dong-goo, they actually affirm it because Se-ha and Dong-goo aren't predictable martyr figures. Their actions are surprisingly difficult to predict.
This element of camaraderie is where "Inseparable Bros" comes up with most of its laughs- although just as much credit belongs to the extremely strong cast, who have great functioning chemistry. Even a character who is rather obnoxiously introduced by obsessively staring at his phone ends up having a surprisingly strong redemptive arc simply by being more proactive in trying to help out the bro he gets stuck with. No one in this movie is a bad person, even if most of them make questionable decisions at one point or another. This really helps with understanding Se-ha and Dong-goo from an outsider perspective, and how we can know that they're brother without necessarily being able to understand that.
Written 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 email@example.com. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.
"[HanCinema's Film Review] "Inseparable Bros""
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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