THE SHORT VERDICT:
Her Lovely Heels is a short little mini-drama that boasts more atmosphere than actual story, more pretty than plot.
At just 12 short minutes per episode, the 10-episode mini-drama is literally only as long as a movie, yet tries to pack in as much as a regular drama in terms of OTP milestones, drama tropes and PPL.
All of this, combined with its solid production values, pleasant OST and its earnest-but-stiff cast, makes watching Her Lovely Heels feel akin to watching a long infomercial. Show doesn’t have much meat on its bones, but it’s pretty, and it gets to its destination (while managing to hawk its products).
So why did I check this out at all? Why, for the Hong Jong Hyun Pretty, of course. I mean, just lookie at the Handsome:
THE LONG VERDICT:
If we were to think of a solid, good, regular 16-episode drama as a painting, it would be a painting that has taken pains to create light and shadow, as well as texture and nuance on its 16-hour-long canvas.
Shapes and outlines are carefully filled in with color and richness, and the end result is a picture that speaks volumes and looks true to life; feels true to life.
The thing about Her Lovely Heels, is that it’s a 10-episode mini-drama that has a total canvas of about 2 hours, yet it tries to paint the same caliber of story as her full-fledged drama cousins.
So how do you paint the same picture in an eighth of the normal running time? You sketch, basically. You draw outlines and shapes, and fill them in as best as you can, in the limited time that you have.
But there’s just no way of creating an end product that remotely looks or feels true to life, coz you just don’t have the time. It can still be pretty; it’s just not quite the same.
At just 12 minutes per bite-sized episode, Her Lovely Heels is an easy watch. And if you can dial down your expectations from Full Painting to a simple connect-the-dots sketch, it’s not half bad.
THE NOT-SO-GREAT STUFF
Bare Bones, Trope-Filled Writing
The main trouble with trying to be a drama, at the length of a movie, is that we end up with an oversimplified narrative and flat characters.
Mountains are regularly made out of molehills coz Show is gunning for Big Dramatic Tropey Moments scored by swelling emotion-filled music, and will use whatever means necessary to get there, even if it means making the characters get all upset over nothing much in particular.
In theory, it actually sounds vaguely attractive, in that we just keep getting lots of story milestone payoffs, without having to do the time.
In practice, though, it doesn’t work out so well. Because of the lack of build-up and context-building, the payoff feels hollow instead of well-deserved.
The lack of story substance between story milestones also makes the tropes and the PPL stick out like sore thumbs coz there’s no buffer to help make them feel more organic.
Instead, we get a sea of drama tropes that consistently feel rather mechanical. There are so many, in fact, that it feels like the writer is just patching together bits and pieces of every classic kdrama ever, and shaking it all together, hoping for the best.
Looking on the bright side, you might find it a little more fun if you watched this while playing Spot The Trope.
Here, let me give you a little taste.
The Fateful First Encounter:
Stuck Stiletto Heel…
…which eventually lands Heroine in an Ungainly Fall:
…Only to have her torn dress and stockings shielded by a Hero Backhug, with Bonus Overcoat thrown in, and Meaningful Ballad swelling in the background:
And that’s just the very first episode. If Show manages to cram so many drama tropes into just 15 minutes, imagine how many you’d be counting in 2 hours? I didn’t even get to show you the 3-way wrist grab either.
Well ok, fine. Here you go:
There are times when bad scripts are elevated by good acting (remember Woob in Heirs? He literally gave dimension and depth to Young Do that wasn’t in the script). Sadly, this is not one of those times.
The cast of Her Lovely Heels just aren’t experienced or skilled enough to do the same for this paper-thin story.
Han Seung Yeon is our wide-eyed heroine, and while pretty, has limited range. You can totally see that she’s trying hard, though. But that in itself is a problem. With acting, you want to look like you’re not trying.
Her extremely large eyes and her very toothy appearance also didn’t help. There’d be scenes where she’d be crying and upset, and all I could see were Eyes and Teeth.
To be fair, Hong Jong Hyun is, sadly, also on the stiff end of the scale. I luff this boy (have you taken a look at just how much I luff this boy?), and I really, really want him to do well.
I’m hoping that given experience and exposure, both in dramas and in variety, that he’ll eventually be able to deliver more depth and nuance in his characters. In this show, though, I just have to be content that he’s bringing the pretty.
Besides general tendencies towards stiffness, I’m sad to report that hands-down, the hardest scene to watch was this kiss scene.
As a still, it looks fine. As a scene, though, it’s literally painful to watch. Jong Hyun goes for some movement in delivering the kiss, but it doesn’t translate at all.
I can see how awkward he feels, and he’s kissing her very tentatively in what is supposed to be a hot sort of kiss. Poor baby. He must’ve felt extremely horrified at having to kiss his leading lady. 😛
Y’know what, though, Jong Hyun-sshi.. I’d be happy to help you, er.. practice. Just sayin’. *cough*
Lack of Emotional Resonance
The sketchy writing and the B-grade acting combine to give us an end product that just doesn’t resonate emotionally on any level.
This is the kind of problem that I have with certain movies. The limited screentime isn’t used wisely, and we get the highlights without meaningful emotional payoff.
With all the tropes sprinkled throughout this mini-drama, it feels like we’re just hitting all the main milestones in a big hurry with zero emotional payoff coz we haven’t had time to build up to anything. It literally feels like we’re just going through the motions.
With the intricacies of a full drama stripped away, and acting which is earnest at best, Her Lovely Heels basically feels like a B-grade sort of production in terms of the writing, even though the production values could pass for an A-grade sort of drama.
Which is why I say watching this feels like watching an infomercial instead of a drama or a movie.
STUFF THAT HELPED SWEETEN THE DEAL
It’s Short & Sweet
On the upside, Her Lovely Heels is super short, which makes it an easy watch. With each episode clocking in at just 12-15 minutes, I easily zoomed through half the series in one evening.
Another upside? With everything in drama shorthand, the angst isn’t even all that angsty. I guess that’s the side effect of not having emotional resonance? Your highs aren’t as high as they could or should be, but neither are your lows as low either?
Look at me, being all positive and everything 😉
It’s Prettily Filmed
For all its flaws, Her Lovely Heels is very prettily filmed. Pretty much everything looks great. The lighting, the color palette; indoor shots, outdoor scenes; people and settings; everything is just Very Pretty.
I randomly pulled some screenshots to show you guys just how pretty everything is. Take a lookie:
Nicely easy on the eyes, isn’t it? And I haven’t even gotten to the Handsome yet. 😉
Hong Jong Hyun is Handsome
Y’all already know why this show is even on my radar at all, right? It can be summed up in this one easy sentence: Hong Jong Hyun is handsome.
Heh. What can I say? I came into this a focused fangirl.
And since the show is really rather underwhelming in so many other ways, it’s only right that I – we! – get to savor all the Jong Hyun Pretty.
Here’s a spasm of Jong Hyun Handsome. Doesn’t he look lovely? ❤
THE LAST WORD
If anything, the show is straightforward. Nothing very complex going on here, just pretty people framed prettily, while they try – mostly in vain – to elevate a simple story to levels of emotional resonance.
The ending leans cheesy, but it’s sweet overall, and importantly, that’s the aftertaste that the show leaves.
Of course, I can’t deny that part of the lingering sweet is coz in the end, we get to see a happy, in love, more romantically assertive side to Jong Hyun’s hero character. And I dig the assertive intensity on Jong Hyun:
Yes, the kissing still needs work (& for the record, I’m still volunteering to help with all the practice!), but I can’t deny that the smoldering intensity in his gaze is very sexy indeed. ❤
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Cotton candy through and through. There’s no meat to sink your teeth into, but it’s sweet, light, fluffy, and oh-so-pretty. A quick, no-calorie side dish that shouldn’t hurt your main drama diet.
FINAL GRADE: C-
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Hello CP, thanks for the thought. I’ve taken a look and don’t feel that it’s my kind of thing. If I ever change my mind, though, I’ll know where to go, so thanks for that 🙂
the many drama tropes crammed into each episode were rather annoying for me. hm, maybe that’s why the jdrama “First Class” (which aired a month later) tried a (somewhat) different approach:
Yoshinari Chinami: Believing in your dreams and trying as hard as one can. What’s wrong with that?
Kawashima Remie: This is Tokio, 2014 !
Kawashima Remie: Dreams… trying as hard as one can…
Kawashima Remie: Even spring dramas don’t use those words.
anyway, i agree with your cotton candy verdict: it was a relaxing (mindless) watch after a very long day at work. to sum it up: forgettable.
Lol. Yes, there were a LOT of drama tropes in this one. At least it was prettily filmed, and a very short investment, time-wise? 🙂
All I can say… I cannot get over the magnificence of his nose. 🙂 However it is not spectacular enough to get me to watch… YET.
Missin’ our banter on The Facebook haha. Had to deactivate for a bit. I’ll be back soon enough. 😉
Jo! 😀 Great to see ya! ❤ His nose really is beautiful isn’t it?? It’s so gorgeously regal. I wouldn’t exactly recommend this show even though it does a decent job of bringing the Jong Hyun Pretty. What I do recommend, is checking him out in We Got Married. He’s so, SO ADORABLE in there, seriously! I just canNOT get enough of him in it, and I’ve never been a WGM fan before this either. Love! 😀 ❤
That regal nose and sharp monolid eyes are dreamy. He has so much character to his face, but he can also look extremely dark and edgy as you said. His sweet smile is disarming. Like Woobie. 🙂
I think his reserved nature would be perfect for a Sageuk character, more drama, action, politics, etc. less romance. If that makes him uncomfortable.
Ahh! What a great observation, Lady G! 😀 In that sense, Jong Hyun’s JUST like Woob! They both look badass and edgy and borderline scary when they’re not smiling and have their fierce faces on. And then, when they smile, they both look disarmingly sweet and simply ADORABLE. ❤❤ I’m beginning to think that I’m extremely consistent with my taste in men, coz it all fits together so seamlessly on hindsight! XD
I think Jong Hyun would do better playing mysterious badass, or shy introvert, since both wouldn’t require him to reveal too much to the cameras. But again, I think that would limit him, and not stretch him where he needs to be stretched most. This is where he and Woob are currently worlds apart. I’d love to see Jong Hyun find that depth that’s currently eluding him.
He would look awesome in traditional Korean garb with the Silla hair. LOL.
Ahaha! I can see you’ve got a huge soft spot for all things Silla, Lady G! XD But yes, he would look great in Silla garb, with a flowing mane of glory while brandishing a badass sword!
Thank you for such nice review that “High Heels”, make me didnt watching it.. hahahhaa.. So I just stick with WGM HJH and Yura more like kdrama I think..:)
Heh, glad you enjoyed the review prettysnowy, even though it’s helped you to decide to NOT watch the show! XD Yes, WGM is a lot more cracky than this show, that’s for sure. Hong Jong Hyun and Yura are just too cute together, and Jong Hyun is such a swoony bashful sweetheart, seriously. I just can’t get enough of them and of him – that’s why I wandered over to Her Lovely Heels, really. I just wanted some additional Hong Jong Hyun on my screen. It’s too bad this show wasn’t better, but it did give quite a bit of Jong Hyun Pretty to gaze at! 😉
Aww, what a pure pretty post!! I had stopped watching after the 3 way wrist grab. I think I got bored and just moved on. Even though it was so bite-sized. I kind of forgot about it and subsequently, Hong Jong Hyun. But your recent posts brought him back to mind. I’d say that he has a lot of potential to be a great actor, he already looks amazing. But yet, not in that pretty boy sort of way, his features are what I call more ‘traditional’. Love them! Wonderful review and screen-caps. I had to laugh at her being all eyes and teeth. Sometimes that happens, even with actors you like. And I’ve said that about them too! LOL
I love actress Kim Hyo Jin, and think she’s beautiful, but she’s seriously all eyes! Like straight up manhwa, manga, comic book eyes. LOL.
Oh yes, I can totally understand your getting bored and moving on. There isn’t a lot of story to this baby, and the only reasons I stuck it through was coz it’s so short, and it’s got handsome clean-cut Hong Jong Hyun in it. Not very strong reasons, but whatever works, eh? 😉
You’re right, he’s less “pretty boy” than a lot of other actors.. He’s got that sharp, angular, manly sort of look. And when he’s not smiling, he’s definitely got a dark, edgy sort of vibe. Right now, I’m very much taken with his sunny smiley side ❤❤❤ I do really hope he experiences an acting breakthrough soon. His tendency for stiffness is definitely holding him back right now, and I tend to think that it has a lot to do with his reserved nature. If he doesn’t feel comfortable showing his emotions to people that he knows, it must be so much harder to show them to an audience at large. Which is why I felt so sorry for him as I watched that terribly cringe-worthy kiss scene. I was all, Ahhhh! Make it stahp! XD
And YAY that I’m not the only one who gets distracted by those big eyes and big teeth! XD I swear, I tried to focus, but it was just extremely distracting how her eyes got as big as literal saucers sometimes. And her thin upper lip didn’t help matters, coz her teeth looked even bigger coz of it 😛 Overall, though, I think if she’d get better at the acting, that her eyes and teeth would become less distracting. I haven’t seen Kim Hyo Jin in much, but yes, she’s got those huge eyes too!
I think watching as it aired might have made this mini mini mini series more palatable to me, but watching it all in one go (as I regrettably did), was… torturous, as I found myself focussing more on its many flaws than on its moments of cuteness.
I would definitely agree that it’s cotton candy… and would advise taking it a bite at a time, rather than consuming it in one gulp, as I did. 😉
That’s good advice, Jules! (ALSO! SO HAPPY to see you around! I’ve missed you around dramaland! Smooches! ❤ ) I watched this over 3 evenings.. About half the series on one evening, then a couple of eps an evening as time permitted. And even then, the flaws were pretty glaring to my eyes. I can only imagine how magnified they must’ve been for you since you finished it in a single sitting! Empty calorie overload, I would think! XD
wow…didn’t see this coming!
He is looking so handsome in the stills…by the way, do you take these snapshots while watching or you rewatch the scenes to capture them? And kudos for adding so many pics in all your posts (and all very beautiful!)…it is one thing I’m too lazy to do 😉
Yes, doesn’t he look handsome?? 😀 In this drama’s case, I took the screenshots as I was watching. I tend to do that, but sometimes I do go back in to get something specific that I want for a post. Yay that you’re enjoying the pix.. I just enjoy Pretty, so I like to litter my blog with as much pretty as possible 😉