Marathon is one of those films that appear by chance on your “To Watch” lists, and you start them without much expectations. Actors aren’t the most popular (or recognized), and you really don’t know what to expect from the story. Despite all this, I have to say that it’s not a feature film that goes unnoticed for anyone who has the opportunity to watch it. It touches the inner fibers almost constantly and offers a perspective that many of us wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

“Marathon” depicts the life of Yoon Cho Won, a child who was born autistic, and for whom his mother goes to great lengths to overprotect. The story begins with a narration about the zebras of the Serengeti, a voice that is difficult to determine guiding us into the reality of a young mother trying to teach things to her son in every possible way until losing patience with the child’s clear lack of understanding.

Later, we realize that the one narrating is the main character who repeats what he heard from the television in his favorite show about zebras.

It’s challenging to write about this film without feeling that I’m not being fair enough. It’s filled with symbols that help us understand the associative way Cho Won navigates towards his aspirations—to run the 42.195-kilometer marathon and then eat noodles and pig trotters.

Everything in his mind makes so much sense that we end up feeling like the ones who don’t understand the world, at least not at the level he does. Simple, pure, and without malice, he forges his way towards his goals, those that his mother partly placed in his path in the quest to motivate him.

The cast of “Marathon” [2005]

CHA SEUNG WOO (Go Go 70s, The Sword with no Name, The Peach Tree) brings to life the protagonist of the story, Yoon Cho Won. His performance is impeccable, to the point that one doesn’t even remember he is an actor playing a young autistic character.

KIM MI SOOK (EMPIRE OF GOLD, My Love By My Side, SHINING INHERITANCE) is KYUNG Sook, Cho Won’s mother, who does everything possible to encourage him, sacrificing everything for him, even neglecting the rest of her family and herself. It’s a classic drama role, and although it’s the first time I see her in a movie, her performance is very good, strengthened by Seung Woo’s acting.

LEE KI YOUNG (QUEEN OF THE CLASSROOM, INCARNATION OF MONEY, Circle of Crime) plays Jung Wook, a coach doing community service for drunk driving. He has run marathons in his youth, representing his country internationally. He has a difficult relationship with Cho Won initially, as neither knows much about the other.

BAEK SUNG HYUN (WHITE CHRISTMAS, Big, IRIS 2) portrays Jung Won, Cho Won’s brother, who has to struggle with being displaced and yet feels pity for his brother. He tries to maintain a relationship with his father after he leaves home due to his wife’s neglect.

AHN NAE SANG (WONDERFUL MAMA, 7TH GRADE CIVIL SERVANT, MEDICAL TOP TEAM) is Cho Won’s father. He is not directly involved in the story, but as the plot unfolds, there are situations where he becomes especially relevant.

“Marathon” is not an easy film at first; it’s one of those that you have to watch with tissues at hand. But at the same time, it leaves you with such a beautiful feeling that I can’t help but strongly recommend it. The story is based on a real event—the first disabled marathon runner who managed to run the 42 kilometers solo in less than three hours.

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