Thursday, July 3, 2014

Miracle in Cell No. 7: For all the great fathers

Few weeks ago, I was not able to hold on my tears from falling as I try to snort in the most silent way I can while on a plane back to Manila after a business trip.  No, I did not left my heart in San Francisco or in Kuala Lumpur where I stayed for a week. It’s not even because of the feeling of excitement of seeing my wife and son after nights and days of exchanging I love U over Viber.

I was crying my heart out while watching, in my book, the most moving and touching movie about fatherhood that I have seen in recent years. Another remarkable thing about the experience of watching the 2013 Korean comedy/ melodrama is that I don’t understand a single word the actors said and relied only with the English subtitle and fine acting job of the cast to fully embraced the beauty and lessons of the film.  

The story is about Lee Yong-gu, a mentally challenged man wrongfully imprisoned for murder who then left behind a 6-year old street-smart daughter named Ye-sung roaming in search for her father. With her wit and charm and help of hardened criminals that Leng Yong-gu befriended in prison, Ye-sung found herself in an unusual situation of secretly living inside the cell with his dad.

At first, I thought I was just watching a Asian version of Sean Penn and Dakota Fanning’s 2001 Hollywood hit I am Sam that also deals about the dilemma of raising a daughter for a father with a developmental disability . However, as I begin to relate to some of the fatherhood stuff in the film, I began to let myself ride in the roller coaster adventures and misadventures of Lee Yong-gu.  

Ye-sung and her father lead a happy life while he makes a living by working as a parking attendant at a local supermarket. But one tragic day, a young girl whom Lee Yong-gu followed to ask where he can buy a similar Sailor Moon backpack for her daughter died in a freak accident. He was falsely accused and sentenced to death for abduction, sexual assault, and murder of a minor. Everything happened so fast as it was revealed that the young girl happens to be the daughter of a high-ranking police official. (So, if there is someone who should be in out jail, it should be Sailor Moon… hmp!)

While waiting for the confirmation of Lee Yong-gu’s death sentence, the father and daughter made use of their remaining time together inside the prison. As silly and impossible this storyline may seems, viewers will laugh, cheer and cry with the characters as everyone, except the jail guards and police commissioners, do everything they can so Lee Yong-gu can escape out of jail.  

Some of the best sequences to watched out for happened inside the prison--- the time they sneak Ye-sung inside Cell no. 7; how the little girl touched the lives of each thug; the making of the improvised balloon and the memorable escape scene; the last goodbye… and the… and the… wait, I’m getting emotional now. Give me a few minutes to calm my self.  

(After five minutes... although I'm still sniffing)

If there is a perfect time to watch this, I recommend all daddies to gather their kids in the living room on his birthday. If you plan to prepare food and drinks, make sure to allot a space on the table for at least a box or two of tissue paper. Believe me, even the heart of stone will soften especially during Ye-sung’s last farewell to his “Pa.”

Based on Korean box-office reports, Miracle on Cell No. 7 took more than US$30 million in its first two weeks on the back of strong word-of-mouth. This was especially notable since the film had only Park Shin-Hye (grown up Ye-sung) that can be considered a big star, and a modest budget en route to being the third highest grossing Korean film of all time.

As the end credits rolled up in the screen, I was asking myself what was the miracle that the film tries to imply. Was it the validation of innocence of a wrongfully accused man who was once against all odds? Or was it the moment heartless criminals changed how they see life after being touched by an angelic and innocent child? 

In my opinion, the real miracle is how the movie reminded me and every father who watched it that fatherhood is not just about having a child and raising them to be the best they can be. Fatherhood is the miracle itself. It brings out a certain magic to a man. It soften his heart, it makes him sing and dance. It’s the happiness only a father will feel and understand.   


Ruby said...

Though she played a small part only (the big girl Yesung), Park Shin-hye is considered famous in Korea.

I like this movie. I cried so hard especially the last part and I think if I watch it again, I might cry again. Waaaahhh!!!

Richard Mamuyac said...

@ruby... sad nung movie pero bumawi naman nung ending pero how I wish buhay na lang yung daddy para super happy ending.

But of course, part of that one good cry yung death ni "Pa" :-/