[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 9
By William Schwartz | Published on
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 Jung 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 Jung Yu-mi's performance are her perfectly placed bangs which always obscure half of her face. It's what makes her look like she just walked off the set of a horror movie, and the way it obscures her face shot after shot really does emphasize how closed off she is. It's a little sad to watch, but in a funny sort of way. Her spookiness is so at odds with the rest of the general design that just the contrast, in many cases, is worth a laugh.
This is probably the simplest job the Cyrano Agency has had to date, as her treatment mainly consists of just talking to non-threatening men Moo-Jin and Ah-Rang. The episode excellently captures how this kind of shyness is a two-way street. It's not that she wants to be spooky- it's just a reflex reaction when speaking to an unfamiliar man. Just spending an extended period of time sitting and talking does a lot for her in terms of training her out of this kind of thinking. When the time comes to meet the man of her dreams, it is quite literally a struggle of facing her fears. More than any other client seen so far, I really rooted for Jung Yu-mi's spooky girl. For her, just coming to the Agency itself was likely a gargantuan challenge.
There's a great deal of character development for the regulars as well. Moo-Jin realizes that, while he has no specific problem with fear, the spooky girl's rationalizations mirror his own. Ah-Rang's generally ill-defined role in the show is given a spotlight as he starts to look at romantic relationships considering the spooky girl's off-putting perspective in mind. Everyone else gets a good dose of fear psychology as well- though their discoveries are best left to surprise.
This has been my favorite episode of "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" to date. It deals with an unusually relatable element of love manipulation. That of manipulating ourselves into doing things we may not want to do owing to fear, pessimism, or a lack of a clear plan. Characters have to accept themselves, and accept others, in order to get forward. It's a surprisingly mature and thoughtful message- and it goes down quite well with the drama's usual blend of subtle, smile-inducing comedy.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.