Nineteen is one of those “in-between” ages that just kind of passes by without anyone noticing. For most people, 19 is simply another bump in the road between 18 and 21. There’s just nothing really special about it…and that’s essentially what defines it.
Nineteen is that awkward stage in one’s life that is no longer childhood but not yet adulthood. It’s when you still depend on your parents but also want as much freedom from them as possible. It’s when you’re figuring out your future and who you ultimately want to be.
That’s what South Korean film 19 (2009) is all about. It follows three 19-year-olds who get caught up in a murder and are forced to run away together. As fugitives, they learn important lessons about life, love, and friendship, and they also face the problem of being at an age where they’re technically adults but still treated as kids.
What I really liked about this film was how relatable the characters were. Each of them came from a different walk of life, and thus had his or her own problems to deal with. One was a sheltered rich boy who had yet to pass his college entrance exams. One was in college but was majoring in something that “wouldn't get him anywhere,” thus rendering him useless in the eyes of his family members, and the third was struggling to feed herself while paying for her dying mother’s medical bills. For me, the relationship between these three characters really made the film.
Another neat thing about the film was that two of the leads were played by Big Bang members Seungri and T.O.P. Both displayed their musical talents in the film, giving it a sort of star quality that showed the k-pop artists outside of their normal field of work.
What I didn’t love about the film, however, was the execution of the story. While the premise of the film was interesting, the execution of it left something to be desired. Some things in the film just didn’t make sense while others had too much of a deus ex machina feel. For example, when the leads were trying to figure out who the real murderer was, one of them just happened to have captured the culprit in his stalkerish photos of the victim, and he only happened to notice it just then. It’s like the writers of the script got lazy and threw in the simplest solutions they could think of.
Overall, I’d say this film is an interesting watch, but certainly not a “must-see.” It’s entertaining while it lasts, but doesn’t leave a strong impression.