Heartstrings Shin 2

I didn't review last week's episodes because frankly, they bored me so much that I seriously considered dropping the drama. This week, however? The drama finally became what we'd all been hoping for - a highly romantic youth drama in which the characters often express their emotions through music.

Prior to this, it had its moments, lots of them - but the plot had lost itself in incredibly dull meanderings around adult storylines and in particualar, the cosmically dull Shin/Yoon Soo romance. Dramas have done older woman/younger man romances before, but always as the central/endgame romance and there's a good reason for that - because in order for this to be a compelling set-up, a lot of screentime and complexity needs to be devoted to it. Otherwise viewers just end up feeling impatient with a clearly doomed and foolish romance, and that was certainly the case here. Perhaps if they'd  built into the romance some interesting nuances of Shin being lonely and desiring a mother figure and hence falling for her, it would have been more compelling, but as it is all I could see was an immature kid falling for his pretty teacher who, equally immature, had no interest in him but couldn't quite bring herself to reject him completely.

Heartstrings thoughtful

Perhaps the biggest problem however has been that So Yi Hyun, at least in this drama, is one of the worst actresses I've ever seen. Some actresses can't act and don't have screen presence. So Yi Hyun takes it a step further by having negative screen presence - every time she's onscreen she sucks all charisma out of both the plot and the actors/characters she's surrounded by. (On a minor note, does anyone else think that the shade of lipstick they've had her wearing all drama is noticeably wrong for her skin color?) Add to that Jung Yong Hwa's limited acting skills and when you get them together, it's like watching two pieces of cardboard emote at each other (except for that one climactic scene in the office when she breaks it off for good).

All of which is to say, toot the horns and pop the popcorn, because our boy Shin has finally got his head on straight, ditched dull prima donna teacher, and is all out for our girl Gyu Won.

Heartstrings music

Heartstrings music

Shin falls for Gyu Won very rapidly and satisfyingly in this episode, with a speed that I oddly enough do find realistic, because in my opinion he's been falling for ever since he met her. Those feelings were sublimated by his stronger ones for Yoon Soo, but the chemistry and attraction was always there, especially in his constant petty demands of Gyu Won and how he loved pushing her around and telling her what to do. Now that he's finally let go of Yoon Soo, he falls for Gyu Won with all the ease and speed of an ice-prince who is having his heart melted for the first time. And it is delicious. This drama's strength was always going to  be the interactions, large and small, between Gyu Won and Shin, because none of the side stories are interesting and none of the adult actors are any good. So it all comes together in this episode, in which we get more romantic interaction (and interaction at all) between Gyu Won and Shin than all the previous episodes combined.

I have to admit, based on the past few episodes, that Jung Yong Hwa is a very bad actor. He's not a terrible comedic actor, but he can't do drama to save his life. I was very entertained, in fact, by his crying-in-the-rain scene at the end of episode six, because it was so similar to Kim Hyun Joon's crying-in-the-rain scene in Boys Over Flowers. See, what you do with an actor who can't emote to save his life and who needs to perform a breakdown scene is you make him cry in the rain so that no-one can tell which are his tears and which are raindrops running down his face. It's clever, it really is.

Fortunately, Yong Hwa's lack of acting skills don't really matter in this drama, because he's hot, he can sing, and most of all, he has electric chemistry with Park Shin Hye. I'm constantly surprised that two such young actors can have such chemistry, because projecting or creating chemistry with co-stars is something that experienced actors seem to learn as they go along and get better and better at. I.e. all the actors known for creating intense co-star chemistry are the experienced ones - Yoon Eun Hye, Cha Seung Won, Kim Sun Ah, Lee Byung Hun, etc. But Yong Hwa and Shin Hye have a depth and degree of chemistry I've seen only in mature actors before, and it is lighting up the drama.

Now that Shin has fallen for Gyu Won, their relationship has evolved even more into the delightful "I like you so I'm going to pull your pigtails" sort. You know, kindergarten stuff. But hilarious and cute in this context. He follows her - her - to dinner and then karoake, and scowls at her while she eats.


And honestly, no-one needs good acting when you have two actors who can exchange meanginful! glances! on the bus! like this:

Heartstrings bus

Heartstrings bus 2

I am finding this episode oddly difficult to review with any coherency. And it's not because I didn't love it, or that it wasn't good - it's just that so much of this drama is about the tiny little interactions between two people. As far as plot goes it really has very little - it's all about two young people riding a bicycle together and going to eat and karoake together and exchanging glances on the bus and on the stage and anywhere else they happen to be...which just comes across sounding slight and trivial and plotless. Yet this drama captures the magic of a youthful crush and first love so well, so much better than I can put in words. So let's go with more photos from now on.

Park Shin Hye's faces are adorable.

Heartstrings Gyu Won face

Gyu Won not getting the lead part in the musical puts neatly paid to my little theory about Shin becoming one of the three male leads and Gyu Won becoming the female lead of the musical, but I yet hold out hope that something of the sort will happen. I was relieved that she didn't, however, because it would have been extremely unrealistic - Hee Joo is much more experienced and knowledgeable, and deserves it more, having practiced like a fiend. Gyu Won did well - but she's not quite on Hee Joo's level yet.

Heartstrings song

Heartstrings waiting

But I can't even describe how much I love that Shin disappears after the audition without speaking to her, as she's mobbed by friends supporting her, but waits around until everyone's gone and she's about to leave so that he can give her a ride home. And-

Heartstrings take you home

The fatal words! Oh, you are doomed doomed now!

And he watches her walk away.

Heartstrings Shin

Yes, grovel at her feet boy! And suffer as she goes off with the man who stole your other woman!

Until next week!