In a nutshell: Bromance? You’re soaking in it. The whole thrust of the drama is the relationship between Kim Seon-woo and Lee Jang-il, taking them from their meeting in high school, to crisis, to massive crisis, to even-more-massive! crisis… and into adulthood where the pile of crises are a festering mess that need dealing with. For the most part this drama was really good, with a few rough patches that slowed things down and kept it from being truly amazing.
What worked: The acting was amazing. The two teen actors (Im Siwan and Lee Hyun-woo) were so good, tackling really meaty scenes with such skill (scenes where it would have been really tempting to over-act), that it was hard to let them go when the characters “grew up”. But then the adult actors (Lee Joon-hyuk and Uhm Tae-woong) stepped up and, after a moment of adjusting, owned the characters as well. The actor playing Jang-il’s father (Lee Won-jong) was so, so good at being the creepiest creeper who ever creeped. (So good, in fact, that I avoided Vampire Prosecutor because he had a lead role. But it was all the acting. He was adorable in VP. *g*) And Im Jung-eun rocked as the intensely obsessive, Choi Su-mi.
The cinematography was gorgeous. Lighting, angles … whatever else is involved in cinematography? So much beauty on my screen! Which was good because the director had an interesting style. It made me think of Hitchcock, actually — which suited the psychological story being told. But there were times when things went… very… still. It wasn’t quite a freeze frame, more the actors just holding a position (a pause before acting or answering or what have you) longer than any normal human being would. It could have been a bug or a feature, but because the scenes were so beautifully framed, I chose to take it as a feature.
And the story was, for the most part, fascinating. All about love and betrayal and greed and compassion. All that lovely, mucky human-stuff. The interplay between the two leads was fascinating to watch. (Lee Jang-il’s interaction with himself was fascinating as well.)
What didn’t work: For some reason there was a mother and daughter duo that we’d cut away to watch and I can’t even remember what their storyline was, that’s how interesting it was. Also, there was a character who caused some romantic competition between the two guys and she started out interesting and I remember being intrigued at first. But then she became pretty flat, sliding into more symbol territory (representative of all that’s good and pure, etc.) than full-fledged character. Which was too bad. So there were some filler-fluff that wasn’t needed and I think the drama would have been better if it’d been tightened down to 16 episodes.
But if you look past the filler-fluff, the core story was awesome and didn’t get compromised and ended in a heart wrenchingly satisfying way.