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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Marriage Contract" Episode 13

2016/04/16 | Permalink

Now that he knows the details of Hye-soo's medical condition, Ji-hoon has also discovered a compromise to constantly pining over an apparently uninterested Hye-soo. He will let her go just as soon as there's some assurance Hye-soo will survive her nearly terminal illness. It's exactly the psychological focus that Ji-hoon needs. Deep down Ji-hoon feels emotional gratitude to Hye-soo, and as a man with lots of money, does not consider a basic financial reward to be proper recompense.

The way the arrangement affects Hye-soo is even more interesting, because Hye-soo has been constantly struggling over the fear of death and what this will mean for her daughter. In many ways this existential terror has paralyzed Hye-soo and made her laggard when it comes to obtaining proper medical treatment. Like Ji-hoon, Hye-soo needs distractions in order to effectively function, lest she get lost in her own thoughts. That's a very scary place to be for a person with Hye-soo's history.

The other characters remain underdeveloped. In all fairness this does not appear to be the production team's fault. "Marriage Contract" was originally scheduled for twenty episodes with the possibility left open for eighteen, presumably in anticipation of "The Flower in Prison". Behinds the scenes action has forced "Marriage Contract" into being only a sixteen episode drama, strong ratings notwithstanding. That much explains such stunted events as Hye-soo's extended departure from a restaurant whose characters we never really got to know in the first place because there wasn't any time for that.

There's also some fast-tracked development regarding the mother of Hye-soo's deceased husband, in which a flashback indicates that they used to have a much closer relationship prior to the current day hostility. It's a shame that so many of these strong emotional scenes lack proper context. They could be genuinely heartbreakingly ironic if only there was better contrast between now and the way things used to be.

Not all the design choices are that defendable. The loan shark returns, for reasons that aren't terribly convincing. Also, it looks like Jeong-hoon is in fact being set up as a full-on villain, which I find disappointing because for all the man's flaws he didn't seem like such a bad person until his fiancé, father, and (from his perspective) brother all teamed up to give him an emotional sucker punch. It just doesn't seem fair that Jeong-hoon gets a typical rich jerk scene whereas Na-yoon gets a moment with Ji-hoon that involves the affectionate piano music.

Review by William Schwartz

"Marriage Contract" is directed by Kim Jin-min-I, written by Jeong Yoo-kyeong and features Lee Seo-jin, UEE, Kim Yong-gun, Park Jung-soo, Lee Hwi-hyang and Kim Young-pil.

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