[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mother's Choice" Episode 2 2014/10/13,
So-yeong has been forced into the choice that makes up the drama's title. She can either do what's right as a woman, and support the victim of a terrible crime, or she can do what's right by her son, which is prevent this incident from ruining his life. So-yeong chooses to do the wrong thing, and while it takes some time for her to face actual repercussions, in the immediate sense, the way she betrays herself as a woman is palpable,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mother's Choice" Episode 1 2014/10/12,
This drama aims to discuss a very difficult, very politically incorrect question. How does a woman in the modern world, with all the right trappings of feminism reconcile the fact of these beliefs with increasably unshakable evidence that her son is, in fact, one of those people who would do something so horrible as to violate and terrorize a woman against her will? Let's not pretend for the moment that correct political beliefs produce perfectly egalitarian children. It's a nice sentiment but it defies the sheer scale at which these crimes continue to occur,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Final Episode 16 2013/07/16,
Well, it turns out that final plot arc was exactly as stupid and discomforting as I was expecting it to be. How and why the writer could have possibly thought a plot involving fistfights, stabbing, and bombs would be an appropriate ending to this drama I have no idea. It's like a character from a completely different show decided to just show up and do all the evil cliches he could think of at once. The nicest thing I can say about this storyline is that it only lasted one-and-a-half episodes.
Unfortunately these were still one-and-a-half episodes that could have been used to do something much more interesting,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 15 2013/07/15,
The final act of "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" is definitely utilizing all the information and setting that's been established so far. Unfortunately it's doing so in a rather uninspiring way. I felt uncomfortable when I saw last week's cliffhanger. This drama has dealt with lots of interesting tropes in imaginative ways, but kidnapping? That's not even a trope that's particularly popular in romances. And where it does show up, the unfortunate implications far outweigh any decent drama.
I've been watching this drama as a romantic comedy. I can't imagine that anyone else has been doing differently, simply because of the premise. The strengths of the drama are its honest emotional conversations and build-ups,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" 2013/07/09,
This episode takes a surprisingly direct and pointed attack against the Cyrano Agency's mission. The last episode felt like it was reminding us of everything we'd learned. This one made the argument as to why the Cyrano Agency is, and only ever should be, a fantasy. The contrast with the rest of the series is striking, but rather appropriate. Having the bird's eye view of the audience, it's easy to forget how this can feel for the targets. The very fact that they are best described as targets implies a certain level of contempt for them.
Take the main manipulation setpiece of this episode,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 13 2013/07/08,
The final stretch of "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" is determined to take every convoluted aspect of the series to date and extend it to the most outrageous limits. The Cyrano Agency's final job looks to be an exceptionally complex meta-game of characters pretending to be doing one thing, when in fact they're doing another thing. But everybody knows that everbody else could be doing one thing while pretending to be doing another thing, because this entire series is about the use of complicated meta-acting narratives. So all anyone actually knows is that everyone has an agenda, and even if they can guess the end they might not be able to guess the method,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 12 2013/07/02,
The nursing home subplot ends up going a better direction than I was expecting, as we have less emphasis this time on the wacky adventures and more on exactly what's making life so difficult for this couple. I'm still not entirely sure how well this subplot as a whole dovetails with the larger plot of the agency. We're not exactly at the point where we can accuse the love story between Byeong-Hoon and Min-Yeong of being damaged by past trauma, but that point may be coming soon.
Outside of the love manipulation plot, a lot of the story feels out of focus here,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 11 2013/07/01,
I came away from this episode feeling a little indifferent. It's not bad, really. The characters are all true-to-form, there's some few good gags staggered throughout, and the current love manipulation scheme proceeds at a reasonable clip. It all just felt sort of empty. What I've really liked about "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" is the way it's been taking very specific situations and relating them to broader, more abstract experiences. There's very little of that here, as this episode is about coming back into love after trauma.
There isn't anything wrong with this kind of plot. I was a big fan of "Love 911", a movie last year which covered a lot of the same ground,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 10 2013/06/25,
If the last episode was about the negative consequences fear has on love, this one is about the problems involved with courage. Nearly every character seems to have taken a cue from spooky girl's plot arc and started acting deliberately with more initiative. It's definitely a change for the better, from a narrative standpoint anyway. It forces character whose roles have so far been unclear into acting in a more dynamic, interesting way instead of the usual sneaking around.
Like Ah-Rang (played by Jo Yoon-woo). I'm actually not totally sure what he even did on this drama before he started videotaping stuff at random,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 9 2013/06/24,
After the horror-tinged ending to the last episode, it's appropriate that "Love Manipulation Cyrano" now moves on to an entire episode fueled by fear. It's not a scary fear, though. Despite appearances to the contrary the spooky girl (played by Jeong Yu-mi) is not actually haunted or dangerous in any way. It just seems like that because her crippling shyness has shut her off from the rest of the world- especially the men.
The most appropriate, and immediately recognizable bit of Jeong Yu-mi's performance are her perfectly placed bangs which always obscure half of her face,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 8 2013/06/18,
Well, it's finally happened. I've gotten tired of the goofy antics of "Love Manipulation: Cyrano". Perhaps it's just because the current storyline didn't go the way I was expecting it to. After numerous hints indicating that the current client's request was unreasonable and childish, it ends on a near-storybook note with no real hitches. What's worse, this time, the rmanipulation was, to me, distinctly implausible and suspicious in that it was so obviously manipulative.
Let's take the setpiece of the last episode. The reason it worked so well (as demonstrated by the shopgirl's perplexed expression) is because the scheme didn't feel like manipulation,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 7 2013/06/17,
Everything about this drama is needlessly complicated. It probably seems like I write this every review, but that's because every week the writing manages to find another way to top itself. We find out what those mysterious men covered in black were doing spying on the restaurant- and the answer is simultaneously really stupid and strangely appropriate. At times I have to wonder whether this drama is really love manipulation so much as it is love espionage,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 6 2013/06/11,
It's back to goofiness here, as Byeong-Hoon soon finds himself embroiled in a new love manipulation that seems beneath his dignity. Personally, I'm inclined to agree. The new client is a pretty big dork. I know love can pop up in the strangest places, but this woman's only apparent reaction to him is "thinly veiled hostility". And here we have him lighting up like a puppy dog when she so much as responds to his weak attempts at conversation.
Still, a job's a job, and for a love target this cranky, a very direct contact is going to be necessary,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 5 2013/06/10,
If the fourth episode was about the way first love entangles people, this episode is about recovery. I'm honestly impressed at how quickly Byeong-Hoon is able to pull himself together and salvage a plan that had just about been completely shot. The appearance of his first love Yoon I-Seol last episode seemed to spell out a possible crisis situation- but surprisingly, it actually improves his reasoning by helping him figure out exactly what first love means to an adult, and how it needs to be sculpted appropriately for a teen,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 4 2013/06/04,
The episode starts out with some clever grounding- funny how, with just the slightest emphasis of focus, character actions that seemed to indicate one emotion were actually about something else. The high school arc continues to surprise me with just how on-point it is. For all the zany antics of school uniforms, idols, and too-smart kids, it's painfully obvious that none of the teenagers have any idea what any of the rest of them are thinking. The main "attractive" element of each individual member of the love triangle is an aura of mystery which doesn't actually exist.
The Cyrano Agency members also get some interesting grounding,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 3 2013/06/03,
The first successful pairing of the show is established with a very unlikely revelation that clearly establishes love as a two-way street. This may not sound like much, but recall that one of the big draws to "Cyrano Agency" was how it presented relationships as being essentially two-sided, even though the Cyrano set-up normally only shows us one side. A very passionate, implausible side to be sure, but such is the nature of storytelling,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 2 2013/05/28,
The second episode slows down a bit as the action descends into cat-related hijinx. Unfortunately, this really isn't as interesting as it may sound. Even by the standards of the first episode it's difficult to sort out the importance of the cat in the overall scheme, and the chase scene that results just doesn't ring with quite the same urgency as the elaborate subway plot of the first episode. Or the more direct and effective cloak-and-dagger skulking about in this one,...More
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