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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Orange Marmalade" Episode 4

2015/05/29 | 3175 views | Permalink

First, a retraction. In my first review for "Orange Marmalade" I assumed, for no particularly good reason, that the drama is set in Seoul. This episode I finally realized that the setting is in fact the eastern portion of Jeju Island. This is an important clarification because let's be entirely honest here. The beautiful scenery is a pretty important aspect of the drama. Even when the actual plot hinges on the inherent tragedy of a teen vampire romance, it's the background ambience that's really beautiful and enchanting.

What makes the backdrop so effective is that it doesn't even necessarily look all that much like Jeju Island. Normally tourist promotion for the location looks...well, touristy. But most of the time in "Orange Marmalade" is actually spent at school or in some sort of somewhat urban area. The characters in this drama actually live in Jeju Island- this marks an important part of their identity as people/vampires who have to cope with living in a very different world than what us normal folk are used to.

The worst of it is that yes, in terms of actual plot, this episode does not go anywhere pleasant. A crisis pops up almost immediately that threatens to expose Ma-ri's identity, and overall there's all sorts of disturbing dimensions attached. Teen suicide, even teen vampire suicide, isn't a subject to be taken lightly. It's fortunate that "Orange Marmalade" has such powerful visuals or else the situation might tend toward the melodramatic.

The only thing stopping that is a somewhat interesting recurring point- note that it's always the children who keep managing to screw up the vampire facade. We always tend to think of children as naive, innocent, generally selfless little people who are free of our own prejudices. Here, though, children tend to be kind of dumb. And this is what really keeps wrecking everything for the vampires- the fact that in trying to live a normal human life, they're inevitably incapable of escaping their awful vampiric natures because the children aren't smart enough to evade all that.

It's been an odd story to be sure- four episodes "Orange Marmalade" had to get through this, and we barely even got much screen time of Ma-ri and Jae-min acting all that lovey-dovey. Rather makes me wish the first three episodes had been compacted into just two, so that we'd get more of a sense of a beautiful world being lost. No matter. Next time we head into the Joseon phase of the drama. I didn't even know this story had a Joseon phase- it's anyone's guess how that's going to turn out.

Review by William Schwartz

"Orange Marmalade" is directed by Choi Seong-beom, Lee Hyeong-min, written by Moon So-san and features Yeo Jin-goo, Seolhyun, Lee Jong-hyun and Gil Eun-hye.


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