So-hye (played by Kim Hyun-joo) is a drama writer. Her sense of confidence and competence is well-displayed metaphorically in the opening action scene of "Fantastic". To succeed in the cutthroat world of drama production, So-hye has had to be the best of the best. But no matter how good she is, every so often So-hye has to rely on the help of such disreputable persons as Hae-song (played by Joo Sang-wook). A handsome and arrogant actor, to date the only notion we have that Hae-song may be a good person is the man's genuine love toward his grandmother.
"Fantastic" starts out interestingly enough simply by being an exploration of So-hye's world. Writer Lee Seong-eun shows us a rarely seen wrinkle in the drama production process- how clashes between personalities can derail projects. Both So-hye and Hae-song look petty enough during these scenes that neither comes off as all that sympathetic, and it's easy to see why these specific details are hidden from fans in real life.
The intriguing twist comes when So-hye gets some unexpected news from her doctor, forcing the woman to put her life in proper perspective. So-hye is the kind of woman who wears sarcastic shirts because that's what her life feels like- a situation that warrants little more than sarcasm. This is what makes the doctor's news so genuinely frustrating. All of a sudden every minor daily failure takes on undue importance to a very agitated So-hye.
This is the context which forces So-hye to swallow her pride and team up with Hae-song for the one last job that will likely be her permanent legacy. The situation is funny and tragic at the same time. The problem with having an interesting job like So-hye does is that even in the face of death it's hard to give that up. Even as So-hye is continually mean and bitter, it's clear that some form of personal love drew her to succeed in this profession.
That, presumably, is what we're going to see explored in later episodes now that the premise has been set up. It's a decent premise, though, with a lot of style. Take the high school flashback, which director Jo Nam-gook shoots with clear love and affection even if it is ultimately a monumentally silly scene. Most of the humor in "Fantastic" is like that- it pops up in short, unexpected bursts. The element of surprise is very well-utilized, allowing the drama to maintain a surprising amount of freshness.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Fantastic" Episode 1"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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