At long last "Madame Antoine" reaches the true form of Soo-hyeon's bad psychological attitude. It ends up being about his...dad. Wait, his dad? Have we even seen Soo-hyeon's dad up until now? I can barely even recall the man being discussed, yet now all of a sudden he's the villain upon whom we can safely blame every single problem. Even when a flashback eventually justifies this sentiment, I was caught a little off guard when right in the middle of a meal Soo-hyeon starts unloading following some very slight provocation.
It' a shame because that's a very potentially interesting conflict but alas, that's all "Madame Antoine" is- potential without proper follow through. Now that Hye-rim has decided that her and Soo-hyeon's love is genuine, apparently that's not a conflict anymore, although by the end we still have to have the requisite jealousy storyline. I'm not really sure that kind of unhealthy behavior qualifies properly learning how to love again.
Most of the subplots are muddled here. I was especially bothered by what happens with Seung-chan and Mi-ran. See, Mi-ran points out, correctly, that chemotherapy is a highly destructive process that will likely either kill her or leave the woman so enfeebled as to be little better than dead, especially considering the woman will be in her sixties by the time it's done. And Seung-chan's response to that is...effort solves everything? That's not how cancer treatment works.
That's a pretty late complaint, considering that "Madame Antoine" has made a point of bringing up serious psychological issues only to deal with them flippantly. Disclaimer at the beginning notwithstanding, "Madame Antoine" has really squandered its opportunity to really be a good procedural when it comes to psychology. Early episodes gave hints of a better, non-murder obsessed version of "Doctor Frost". And now..?
Well, what we have now is a story where the most interesting plot points are hijacked from low-brow soap operas, with a mild comedic twinge being used to disguise the fact the characters should be smart enough to recognize how stupid these clichés either, yet don't because their intelligence is conditional on very specific contexts. Any time it's not a specialized field and just dealing with everyday life, I find myself forced to question how these characters even managed to get dressed in the morning. Well, at least they pick stylish clothes, and of course Mi-ran picks the best ones, being the smartest character of all. That's about the best closing compliment I can offer.
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. 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.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Madame Antoine" Episode 16 Final"
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