Sang-woo (played by Yoon Hyun-min) has just had a nasty separation with his wife Seo-won (played by Nam Gyu-ri). At first we don't get a full picture of what happened, but what we do see appears to indicate a marriage on the rocks. But in reality, all we're really seeing is one really bad fight that's only being accentuated by the fact that annoying home shopping voices are filling the room. Consequently, the argument escalates, and this often seems to be the only memory of his wife that Sang-woo really has.
It's from this heavy stress of living together that Sang-woo enters into a new arrangement, with a housemate who he never actually sees. The irony is a marked one. Sang-woo appears to be communicating with her better through mostly anonymous notes than he was with his actual wife when they were at least in the same room together. But what kind of living arrangement is this really? And can it be sustained?
"Drama Festival - House, Mate" asks some very difficult questions about what it means to actually live with another person, and what we actually expect from that kind of relationship. Regardless of whether it's with a romantic partner or someone platonic, certain basic standards needs to be adhered to. So what happens when one person has a really bad day, so bad in fact, that they're not even in the mood to be cheered up?
What the "Drama Festival - House, Mate" really captures so well about all this is that Sang-woo, however sympathetic he may come off at first glance, is in fact being irrational and only acknowledging part of the broader story. He's still been wronged and emotionally hurt, but is that really what matters? People screw up, and they make mistakes. Not other people- people period. You do it, too. And Sang-woo, much as he may be loathe to admit it, wasn't acting the role of good husband out of obligation. The man had his own emotional needs- to care for another person.
The drama's climax ends up becoming surprisingly effective as a result. This is less a love story as it is about the journey Sang-woo ends up taking toward self-discovery, and realizing, to his surprise, that everyone else is in the same position as he is. Being angry may be the easy way out, but the kind of deep hurt Sang-woo's been nurturing was only ever possible because of a deep and profound love. It's a humbling moment, well deserving of a serious watch.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Festival - House, Mate""
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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