Keys to the Heart (2018) poster
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 1,382 users
# of Watchers: 2,969
Reviews: 2 users
Ranked #1128
Popularity #4213
Watchers 1,382

A washed-up boxer, Jo Ha, has lived his life relying on nothing but his physical strength. His champion glory lasted only a moment, and now pride is all Jo Ha has. He runs into his mom who left him when he was little and comes to live with her and Jin Tae, the younger brother who always seems awkward except for when he plays the piano. The autistic savant, Jin Tae, shows brilliance in playing the piano and video games and cooking ramen. He is at first scared of his older brother, who insists on swinging his fists at people for what he wants. Reunited with each other, the two brothers learn what it is to be a family. (Source: IMDb) Edit Translation

  • English
  • Русский
  • Español
  • Türkçe
  • Country: South Korea
  • Type: Movie
  • Release Date: Jan 17, 2018
  • Duration: 2 hr. 0 min.
  • Score: 8.3 (scored by 1,382 users)
  • Ranked: #1128
  • Popularity: #4213
  • Content Rating: 13+ - Teens 13 or older

Cast & Credits


Keys to the Heart (2018) photo
Keys to the Heart (2018) photo
Keys to the Heart (2018) photo
Keys to the Heart (2018) photo


23 people found this review helpful
Sep 8, 2022
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 9.0
This review may contain spoilers

Disillusioned life scenario, yet spiked with moments as the ego steps aside + heartopening happens

A wonderful movie in many ways.

This KMovie is aiming straight at the heart. This is already indicated in the international title "Keys to the Heart". Also, that the piano plays a key role - i. e. its 88 white and black keys.

The original title is more like "This only is my world" and refers in its own way to the piano, because this is the world of the autistic protagonist Jin-tae. However, this also refers to the (also limited) world of his brother Jo-ha, to which Jin-tae starts belonging. Additionally, revolving around Jin-tae (and Jo-ha) is their mother. "Keys to the Heart" is a story about that mother and her two very different sons. She left one of them decades ago as a little boy under dramatic circumstances and to date he hasn't forgotten, let alone forgiven. The other is autistic with savant syndrome.

It´s a given that the story intends to bring tears to your eyes. Yes. The story wants to get to the heart. But not generally in a tender, comforting and blissful manner. In fact, there is nothing but pain drifting around those hearts in this story. The framework of the plot draws a disillusioned, depressed scenario of the lives of ALL characters - regardless of whether they are rich or penniless, or otherwise have a more or less comfortable living. (The exception to the rule here is the autistic Jin-tae.) As if it were the most natural thing in South Korean everyday life for people to suffer. There is a good deal of social criticism in this KMovie. I think that's often overlooked in its critics or reviews.
There's the drinking, beating father; the abandoned son; the penniless son who can do nothing but box; the brutal world of dog fighting, where boxers beat each other bloody for money; the single mother with cancer; the mother with guilt; the autistic son; the depressed, suicidal, rich, once famous invalid; the Jaebeol CEO, whose money doesn't help her to be able to buy back her daughter's happiness. Eventually "Key to the Heart" is a dreary, sobering contemporary document. Not a picture of society of the crisis-ridden 1990s, no. It is a simple, unpretentious social inventory of the South Korean affluent society from the year 2018...

Now, some heart-warming light is shining into this fundamentally gloomy everyday world. (And in those of the audience as well.) In rather small spots though. These are brief details, inconspicuous moments (apart from the big spotlight of the finale, which is a bit more spectacular). However, those little spots make all the difference. Not a flash of inspiration, rather a flash of the heart, in which the injured ego steps aside for a moment: for a moment of clarity for the essential: actually, what´s NOW. For a moment, people can just let go of all grief and become open to what life has to offer just NOW: beauty, warmth, joy, hope. This NOW can transform, heal, completely change the view of the world. The world on this earth itself is the same, yes, the planet does not change its orbit because of it. It's not suddenly 'everything will be fine again'. And yet it is something like 'everything-IS-good'. ... That brings us to the KMovie's favorite quote: "Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion." (Muhammad Ali)

Admittedly, a button is pressed when it comes to the piano music. The classics take their space. But here, too, the story does not fail to take the opportunity to point out the ego-driven business with it - the talent and passion of the musicians may be on the one hand, but the very personal interests of teachers and directors are on the other...
Of course, with Jin-tae as a young man with an autism spectrum disorder with savant syndrome, the KMovie is deliberately pressing another selected button, with the intention of moving hearts. Nevertheless, even this developmental disorder is not romanticized, yet shown as demanding and exhausting to deal with.
Particularly pithy and powerful: The contrast between the world of the buttoned-up, reserved, respectable, reasonable and properly dressed classical music scene and the childlike, impulsive and playful but brilliant Jin-tae, whose piano playing tears down walls for a moment.

At last, we are back at the beginning: a story about that mother and her two very different sons... There is hurt, sorrow, the pain of loss and guilt - all is there, what life has to offer to become estranged from each another, or to feel lonely and abandoned. And that's where love - no matter how screwed up - finds its screwed-up moments. I don't think predictability is a problem with this movie, because it doesn't want to be 'enthralling'. Yet, it wants to touch the heart, and it does. Eventually, that's good for everyone. With this movie, it is the HOW that is decisive: by sober narration of a basically rather depressing story that thrives on short, unspectacular moments (and the actors) in which 'new' NOW-decisions are made and heart opening becomes possible.


--------------------------- SIDE NOTES --- Savant syndrome ---

Savant syndrome has often been a topic in the cinema, for example in the US production "Rain Man". There are only around 100 "Savants" known worldwide (from the French 'savoir' = knowing, how to do it). Accordingly, the phenomenon has only been scientifically examined to a limited extent. In the musical field, there are various examples of Savants (like the fictitious Jin-tae here in the movie) who, without any music lessons, are able to play the most difficult pieces of music with accentuated detail after just hearing it once - solely thanks to their perfect hearing.

However, Savant syndrome usually goes hand in hand with autism spectrum disorders. This in turn refers to developmental disorders of varying severity. The people affected typically have little interest and competence when it comes to social interaction. They prefer to live in their own world. Generally, their perception is strongly focused on details and does not weight them like the otherwise socialized majority around them. Details that others usually overlook become subjectively crucial, while information considered essential to their environment may not play any particular role at all. Information is initially unfiltered, being of equal value in its perception. Thus, without the social-cognitive filters that non-autistic people learn to develop, the moment of sensory overload followed by stress is quickly reached.

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1 people found this review helpful
Sep 16, 2018
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 9.5
Rewatch Value 10
The story is an 8.5 because it is very cheesy and lacks originality but it's like watching My Annoying Brother, the plot is simple to read but once you actually watch it, yeah it's predictable but they hit you with so many more layers you were not expecting. I mean, it only looks like it's about a used-to-be boxer in need of money who finds he has a autistic brother that has savant syndrome. The movie has a few more layers that make you really cheer for joy that there is more to it than what meets the eye. The story is a nice comedy movie but it's comedy that is realistically funny and not overly used to make up for anything, The main story is helped by a slight side story that hits you with a character that you don't know whether to cheer for or hope she has presence later on. Also, I felt like I was watching a movie from a few years back with how the movie is shot. I am not saying it as a negative but as a warning because it does feel years older than 2018, maybe 2012-ish to me.

The acting was great. I have come to realize that characters with Autism in K-drama's and movies are the best I have seen yet. Park Jung Min who played Jin Tae is a great actor with a very wide range of skills from his other role. His big and small actions spoke to me the most in the movie because he captured the general sense of Autism with another small world of complexity (basically, I loved his portrayal of an autistic character with believable tendencies and savant syndrome).
I have to say Yoon Yeo Jung is probably one of my favorite aged actresses because she can do anything but the character that is headstrong but fragile and tries to hide hardship is my favorite of her characters. She did it again in this movie and I really hope she does many more.
The only one I had a problem with was Lee Byung Hun. Don't get me wrong, it wasnt his acting I had an issue with, it was the character. The character begged for more complexity. His character was dynamic but it took me so much to understand what he was doing and for his change to happen that, it didn't sit well with me. You may disagree and I don't blame you, it's just what I feel.

I love classical music so this was an amazing assortment of pieces. The music was great and I really enjoyed it but it gave off the old vibe again which I really hoped it wouldn't but it worked with how it was shot. I have to say, the music will certainly not turn you away from this movie.

Overall, I will most certainly watch this movie a couple more times to catch other aspects I may have missed and maybe I will come to understand the character I didn't so much like a bit more. I think you should watch this if you liked My Annoying Brother, I obviously did (at first for D.O. but later on for the plot).

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  • Movie: Keys to the Heart
  • Country: South Korea
  • Release Date: Jan 17, 2018
  • Duration: 2 hr. 0 min.
  • Content Rating: 13+ - Teens 13 or older


  • Score: 8.3 (scored by 1,382 users)
  • Ranked: #1128
  • Popularity: #4213
  • Watchers: 2,969

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