I’d wanted to check out this movie for several reasons. 1, I’d really enjoyed Nam Joo Hyuk and Han Ji Min together in 2019’s The Light In Your Eyes (which I think is a truly special drama), and welcomed the chance to see them share the screen again. 2, I was intrigued by the fact that our female lead is a woman with a disability, because it’s really not that common for a romance to feature a lead with a disability.
I liked the inclusiveness of the concept, and I was also curious to see how Show would treat this aspect of the story. (Full disclosure: this movie is based on a Japanese short story, which also spawned a Japanese movie. I’m not familiar with either of those works, and this is my first exposure to the story.)
Now that I’ve watched it, I’m gonna hafta say that I don’t think this movie is for everyone. I mean, I don’t even think it’s for me, heh. I just don’t think I managed to connect with this one the way this movie’s fans are able to. Still, I thought I’d write this quick review, so that you can figure out whether this one would work for you? Because those who find themselves on the same wavelength as this show, really do love it a lot.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Young Seok (Nam Joo Hyuk) is a college student who ends up helping a woman, Josée, who’s fallen from her wheelchair (Han Ji Min). In slow degrees, he ends up becoming part of her life.
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS
Here are couple of things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of the show.
1. This movie can feel pretty slow. With its broody, contemplative, slice-of-life approach, it can feel like nothing much is happening on your screen. But stuff does happen. It just happens in slow degrees.
2. This story world can be pretty dark. I mean, literally. Some scenes are purposely shot in semi-darkness, so much so that occasionally I wasn’t sure what was supposed to be on my screen. However, when it’s not dark, Show is pretty. In brighter scenes, I really appreciated the pretty palette and the cinematography.
3. There are a fair number of things in this story that are open to interpretation. That could be a boon or a bane, depending on the type of viewer you are.
STUFF I LIKED
1. Han Ji Min as Josée. I found Han Ji Min’s portrayal of Josée quite haunting, and I felt that she effectively brought out Josée’s vulnerability, wistfulness and loneliness.
2. Nam Joo Hyuk as Young Seok. I thought Nam Joo Hyuk did a solid job of portraying Young Seok, a young man who’s doing his best to stumble through life, and who suddenly finds himself in a different world than he’d imagined himself in.
3. I like our story concept. Even though I found the actual execution of this story not quite to my taste, I appreciate the idea behind it. I like the idea of two souls finding each other, and being drawn together, despite the different worlds that they come from.
4. I can tell that care and thought went into the execution. Even though there were things that I wished Show had done differently, it’s clear to see that a great deal of careful effort was put into everything in this movie, from the framing and lighting of a scene, to camera angles, to the use of shadows.
STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH
1. Not enough time spent solidifying the relationship between Young Seok and Josée. Since the relationship between Young Seok and Josée affects them both at such a deep level, I thought it would have been helpful, if Show had spent more time teasing out how important they were to each other. I also would have liked to see more happy times shared by the two, which I feel could have made for important context.
2. I would have liked Josée to be written as less cold. Like I mentioned earlier, I very much appreciated the haunting way that Han Ji Min portrays Josée; that fits really well with where she is in life, when she meets Young Seok. However, I would have liked to see glimpses of warmth, amid the cold, particularly as she became more secure and confident as a person.
3. Show’s a little too slow for my taste. I like to think of myself as a flexible viewer who’s able to adjust her expectations to fit what a show wants to be, but even with my best effort, I personally found the watch experience a little too slow for my taste (and perhaps my mood, I’m not sure).
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
From the moment we’re told that Josée has a chronic habit of speaking out her fantasies as if they’re reality, I started to question what was real, and what was imagined, in our story world. I even went so far as to wonder whether Young Seok ever came back to the house, after that first encounter, or if Josée had created this complete, intricate fantasy about him becoming her boyfriend, as a result of that single interaction.
That’s a bit unsettling to me, as a viewer, because I didn’t know what was real (and therefore something I could hold on to), and what was a product of Josée’s very fertile, very detailed imagination.
In the end, I decided to believe that Young Seok’s relationship with Josée had been real, up to the point of the conversation at the aquarium.
It’s a little perplexing to interpret the events that Show serves up towards the end of its run, because not only are things out of sequence, stuff is left up to our interpretation as well.
I decided that the glitch on the ferris wheel, where Young Seok and Josée couldn’t get off, was the point at which Josée started to see herself as a burden to Young Seok, and that was what prompted her eventual break-up conversation with him at the aquarium.
Personally, I think the ferris wheel incident was just a catalyst, because honestly, what could anyone have done, when the doors wouldn’t open? Even an able-bodied person wouldn’t be able to do anything to open the doors from the inside, safety feature and all, right? So I rationalize that this was more a catalyst than anything, and that there were already so many things swirling in Josée’s mind, that it didn’t take much for her to decide that she was a burden to Young Seok.
Another part of it, I think, is probably the idea that Young Seok wouldn’t be able to pursue the life path that he’d been on, prior to meeting Josée, if they had continued on in the relationship. I’m guessing that that was likely a factor too, in Josée’s decision.
Do I think that Josée necessarily had to break up with Young Seok, in order to find her confidence and independence? It’s hard to say. It’s true that it’s possible to grow and change while in a relationship, but at the same time, sometimes, being on your own ends up being THE thing that forces you to step into a mind space that you’d been afraid to, before.
In the end, the important thing to take away, I think, is that Josée did gain strength from her relationship with Young Seok, and when she felt that she’d gained enough strength, she believed it was the better thing to do, to let him go.
For the record, given Josée’s circumstances, I believe that the trip to Scotland was all part of her imagination as well.
It honestly doesn’t look like Young Seok’s all that happy when we see him after the sudden 5-year time skip, but again, what he does with that is left vague.
He might have gone ahead to marry Soo Kyung (Lee So Hee), &/or he might have eventually found his way back to Josée. I personally tend to think that Young Seok will carry on walking the path that he’s on (unless Something Big throws him off it; that’s just how he strikes me as a character), but at the same time, I believe that, no matter what happens, he will continue to keep a special place in his heart for Josée, whom I’m sure he would rather have loved and lost, than not have loved at all.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Contemplative and melancholic. Not for everyone.
FINAL GRADE: B
WHERE TO WATCH:
You can check out the movie on iQIYI here, subbed and in HD.
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