tvN’s Navillera (나빌레라) is simply excellent. A stunningly beautiful drama series about the dreams, obstacles, family and friends that all play a part in our lives. Park In Hwan and Song Kang lead a strong ensemble cast through thoughtful, sincere and profound stories that are just as poignant as they are fun and entertaining.
Navillera centers around Sim Deok Chul (Park In Hwan), a retired 70-year-old grandfather whose love for ballet is rekindled one day when stumbles upon talented 23-year-old ballet dancer Lee Chae Rok (Song Kang) while he is practicing.
Having set aside his dream of ballet when he was a child, Sim Deok Chul decides to pursue it once again even at his older age despite some of his family’s protests. Though he is feeling pressured about his future in ballet, Chae Rok reluctantly takes on Mr. Sim as a student. Their relationship is a test of two opposites at first. But they soon form a friendship and bond that helps them guide each other forward.
Mr. Sim and Chae Rok might be at completely different points in their lives. But they unexpectedly share more in common than they ever could have imagined. And in their quest to overcome their own personal hurdles, they inspire and help each other build the confidence they need to grow.
On the surface, Navillera may simply be about being able to follow your dreams at any age. But the series is so much more. It is a thought-provoking slice of life story. Following not just Mr. Sim and Chae Rok, but their family and friends around them as well. Everyone having to deal with different every day real world problems as well deeper inner struggles.
Mr. Sim and Chae Rok are able to help each other live life to the fullest when they may be at low points in their lives. But in supporting each other, they each learn how their life experience, both highs and lows, help them be able to move forward and find strength in those experiences.
There are breathtaking ballet sequences and there are quieter character moments. There are simple, every day moments and there are heartbreaking, dramatic scenes. Navillera effortlessly manages a steady tonal balance that keeps the series grounded and relatable.
The friendship that develops between Mr. Sim and Chae Rok is both emotional and whimsical. Veteran actor Park In Hwan and Song Kang, one of the most promising young actors today, both soar with incredibly moving performances. Their chemistry enhances the already well-written story. Seeing the friendship develop between Mr. Sim and Chae Rok is stunningly poignant. Shining both on their own and especially together, their performances are powered with a sincerity that enthralls with each of the 12 episodes of the series.
You laugh with them, you cry with them. You cheer for them and root for their success and happiness. It’s hard to see any other actors in these roles. From ballet sequences to emotional moments, Park In Hwan and Song Kang absolutely deliver.
The two of them lead a wonderful ensemble cast. Veteran actress Na Moon Hee delivers an important piece of the journey as Mr. Sim’s loving wife. And Kim Kwon deserves a special mention as Yang Ho Beom, Chae Rok’s former football teammate who holds a grudge over a painful past they share. Kim Kwon is undoubtedly due for a lead role of his own.
With its great cast, affecting writing and meticulous production, Navillera is a pure television gem. The series develops into a bit of a profound and thought-provoking experience. Offering heartfelt life lessons and captivating character-driven stories, Navillera will leave a lasting impression long after the final credits roll.