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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shall We Kiss First" Episodes 37-38

2018/04/23 | 407 views | Permalink

I like how Soon-jin is treating Moo-han's stay in the hospital as a stay in the hospital while Moo-han is acting like this is hospice care. Of course Moo-han's outlook has not actually changed in any meaningful way. He's spent the entire drama in self-imposed hospice care, it's just a lot more obvious now because everything is out in the open. Which also adds a morbid sense of humor even to scenes as mundane as Soon-jin eating some fried chicken.

Ah, how I missed the comic relief in "Shall We Kiss First"'s early episodes. These aren't really written jokes. Everything is loaded in the performances. Kim Sun-ah has perfect comedic timing. She even manages to sell laughing at her own jokes as being funny, because it's all in the characterization. To Soon-jin, laughter is how she recovers from the misery of daily life. Besdies, Moo-han is so gloomy that getting him to act with any levity at all feels like a major accomplishment.

Of course there's nothing inherently remarkable about trying to use positive life experiences to deal with the pain caused from bad ones. There's a great metaphor here with Kyeong-soo observing the fallout from the candy company incident on television, and going from that straight to his daughter. Does Ji-soo's existence in any way fix what happened to Kyeong-soo's dead daughter? Obviously not. But he is nonetheless reassured, and can even calm down better with Ji-min.

Even past depressing events become humorous in context. Apparently In-woo and Mi-ra do engage in weird foreplay, as I had assumed from a previous setpiece. Also there are ways that In-woo can reassure Mi-ra, he just never thought of them before because these were, in his mind, lapses in judgment. As much as any other reason, Mi-ra loves In-woo for his eccentricities, and the strange ways that he can express his honest affection in a particularly trying moment.

The backdrop to "Shall We Kiss First" remains inherently depressing. It remains unclear whether Soon-jin can successfully force a happy ending ehre just through positive thinking. But look at how far her attempts have already changed Moo-han's outlook, in addition to her home. Take the attempted suicide scene. Aside from the brilliant fake-out dark comedy joke, there's the obvious character development in how, quite contrary to his behavior in flashback, Moo-han doesn't just walk away. That much is already a miracle, so why can't we have a little more than that?

Review by William Schwartz

"Shall We Kiss First" is directed by Son Jeong-hyeon, written by Bae Yoo-mi and features Kam Woo-sung, Kim Sun-ah, Oh Ji-ho, and Park Si-yeon.

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