Sung Joon is really good in the lead role here. Note how it's always (mostly) easy to tell whether or not Soo-hyeon is actually being sincere, and the main times there's ambiguity is when Soo-hyeon himself isn't totally sure what's going on. The only times Soo-hyeon is able to get Hye-rim's guard down is when he's making mistakes. His increasingly complicated lies just come off as increasingly suspicious. Besides, the premise of Soo-hyeon's experiment doesn't even make sense.
This reaches its apex in the climax, where Soo-hyeon is forced to badmouth the academic credentials of the experiment in order to deal with how everyone except himself is increasingly hostile to his morally repugnant scientific method. What I found especially hilarious about this exchange is that a lot of the points Soo-hyeon makes are the exact same criticisms I've been making. Whatever Writer Hong Jin-ah is up to here, she obviously did her homework.
Unfortunately this isn't quite so evident in the more temporary storylines. The clinic ends up tackling a case of generic alcoholism, and the exposition is so slight it's hard to tell what possible catharsis we're supposed to be heading toward. There's only enough plot in any of these cases to justify a single episode of story, and yet they're always being stretched out to two. Why?
Well, that's a fairly easy question to answer actually- because "Madame Antoine" is more interested in trying to provoke romantic tension than it is in actually exploring psychological issues. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Soo-hyeon is willing to go to some pretty ridiculous lengths just to see Hye-rim, and it's endlessly amusing how good Soo-hyeon is at convincing himself that this is all for the good of the experiment. It couldn't possibly be because he wants an excuse to get a glimpse of her sleepy face.
Han Ye-seul is pretty great in her leading role too. There's a surprising sense of maturity. Han Ye-seul doesn't try to do that awkward thing older women actors sometimes do of pretending to be young and sexy- Hye-rim is a product of life experience, and there's a very appealing matronly quality about the woman as she just encourages guys to do their best and believe in themselves. It's sweet and very sincere, because note how she tries to avoid encouraging her leading man. Soo-hyeon's problem is too much self-confidence. Is it attractive? Sure- but he's still a jerk and that kind of behavior does not need reenforcement.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Madame Antoine" Episode 5"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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