Review: Heartstrings 3-4
The fluffiness continues. Heartstrings is the kind of drama you watch with your brain humming at its lowest speed, but it leaves you with a foolish grin on your face and a hopeful feeling about life. The lovely thing about youth dramas is that they plunge you back into that world, a world most of us have left behind, when everything was simpler and the bounds of life were made up of classes, school competitions, and the smile of that cute boy you have a crush on. It helps that this drama is filmed with such lovely colors - there's a shimmering luminousness to this camera, and some really well-done angles and shots, particularly around Lee Shin and Gyu Won as each stands alone on the balcony contemplating life at different times.
I'm a little dissatisfied with the actual plot, because uh, there isn't much. All the adult story lines are deadly dull and are frankly dragging the drama down, I wish we could just focus on the kids instead. Dream High was able to weave together adult and teen story lines in the same drama effectively, but the focus was clearly the kids and all the adult drama was carefully tied back to the kids - for instance Hye Mi's father's troubles led to her being at Kirin Art, while Oh Hyuk's past with her parents tied him to her and made him help her out throughout the drama and act as a mentor to the Dream High kids.
Whereas the love story between the two teachers in this drama is only indirectly related to the plot and effects only two (Shin and Gyu Won) of the multiple characters in this drama. It doesn't help that the drama is poorly cast - So Yi Hyun and Song Chang Ui as Yoon Soo and Suk Hyun, respectively, are easy on the eyes but have very little screen presence. I want to yawn anytime Yoon Soo is onscreen.
As for the story line with Shin's father and his illness and with Shin's mother possibly having been involved with Gyu won's father, ugh. Predictable, cliched, and poorly handled. Please, please, can't we just focus on the kids and their little dramas? No forced, unconvincing angst from the adult corner, hmm? I've enjoyed parents' lives spilling over into kids and the conflict that ensues in other dramas such as Baker King, but Baker King had stellar writing and acting, which lifted the faintly makjang (melodramatic) shenanigans of the adult figures into a very compelling saga. It was also a much longer and more serious drama. In a series as light and fluffy as Heartstrings, I would wish that it would really claim its status as a youth drama and just focus on the kids. Especially since Park Shin Hye and Jung Yong Hwa, particularly the former, are much better actors than the adult ones.
The youth story lines are satisfying thus far. Shin, Gyu Won, Hee Joo and Joon Hee are all really compelling. I'm loving the pairing of bratty, high-maintenance, fiery Hee Joo and impulsive, perpetually hungry, heart-on-his-sleeve Joon Hee. She's a princess and he's a puppy and together I love them. As for Shin and Gyu won, frankly I feel like I'm just killing time in this drama until things really heat up between them. There's frustratingly little screen time between them, unusually little in fact. The drama teases up with one or two addicting scenes per episode, but spends the rest of the screen-time focusing on them with other people. All I can say is things had better heat up fast because I'm getting impatient.
I'm particularly eager because Park Shin Hye and Jung Yon Hwa have the level of chemistry by episode three that most drama couples have only built up by episode ten. I frankly didn't really notice their chemistry in You're Beautiful (I was a little fixated on Jang Geun Seuk you understand) but everyone who said they had crazy chemistry, and the producers that decided they had enough to give them a whole other drama, knew what they were talking about. In fact, while I wouldn't go so far as to say that I wonder whether they're attracted in real life, I would wager that they get along very very well in real life. That level of ease and warmth can't be faked, especially in young actors.
The sparks are already off the charts, in the little glances they sneak at each other and the way they smile when thinking about each other...which means there's going to be flames once the romance really gets going. If we're getting this level of chemistry when they only have two scenes together per episode, the brain boggles at what's gonna happen when we get musical battles and attraction-laden fights and lots of Shin/Gyu Won interaction. I would kill for makeouts, even one, but since this is a youth drama I suppose that's far too much to hope for. At least, please give us a scene where Shin sings a song meant for Gyu Won, and hopefully several scenes where he rushes in and saves her from something, and I will die happy drama powers that be.
The longer this drama goes on, the more it reminds me of a Taiwanese drama. The low-key plot, the young, impossibly pretty leads, the emotional immediacy and the speedy development of intense romantic sparks...it's all very Taiwanese-drama-ish. Also, this?
The little animated sequence with the haloed light and the random fantasy moment? Was straight out of a Taiwanese drama. In fact, all I could think about was Smiling Pasta, when those ridiculous clouds appear periodically above the heroine's head, and especially the end scene where he pulls out an umbrella (I died laughing).
One last thing - I'm not crazy in hoping and believing that the drama is leading up to Shin being one of the three male leads of this play they're putting on, am I? Opposite Gyu Won as the female lead?