"Madame Antoine"'s quaint charm kept me hooked from the very first episode. We have our heroine, the quaint bohemian-styled cafe owner Ko Hye-rim (Han Ye-seul), who claims that her body is the host of French Queen Marie Antoinette's ghost. She thereby cons people by reading their future; where she lacks in psychic she makes up for it with sharp observations and a great hunch. Our hero, Choi Soo-hyeon (Sung Joon), is a professor who specializes in women's psychology and hails from the famous university of Stanford. Their lives become tangled with each other after Soo-hyeon moves in upstairs from Hye-rim's cafe. Little does Hye-rim realize that the three desirable bachelors, with varied personalities, who keep approaching her, are all part of a cynical experiment conducted by Soo-hyeon to prove his hypothesis around the nature of true love.
One of the first things that I loved about "Madame Antoine" was its unconventional premise, something that was executed to near perfection except towards the end. This drama strikes a perfect balance between the characters, the events unfolding around them, and the repercussions. I was particularly impressed with lead actor Sung Joon's portrayal of the unusual character throughout the drama, be it his quirky personality or his tear-inducing past. Another thing I noticed was that the love triangle wasn't emphasized too heavily. This too contributed in making "Madame Antoine" a one-of-a-kind drama."Madame Antoine"'s quaint charm kept me hooked from the start.
However, I found the finale of this drama rather weak compared to the strong start, with not entirely satisfying resolutions. Another limiting aspect of the drama is that because of its focus on romance, it doesn't really entice a varied audience in spite of its very relatable character.
The first four episodes establish a rock solid introduction of the main characters and the events that are about to unfold comically. Besides Hye-rim and Soo-hyeon, we also meet Choi Seung-chan (Jeong Jinwoon) and Won Ji-ho (Lee Joo-hyung), the brother and student of Soo-hyeon respectively, who are also the other two "competitors" vying for Hye-rim's heart. These episodes are not only limited to romantic and amusing elements, but also extend to sentimental moments like when Hye-rim lost her family. Such moments went a long way in developing the emotional depth of the characters.
We get to know both of our lead characters a little better here. They're not only put forth in positive lights but also negative ones as well, making them that much more relatable. Subtle details around Hye-rim, such as her rudimentary French equivalent to that of a tourist, and her keen perceptions, keep the viewers humored and engaged. Even though she cons people and has many little flaws, it's not hard to gather that Hye-rim is a lovable people person with enormous self-confidence, sharpness, and righteousness.
Soo-hyeon on the other hand, comes across as a cold, emotionally detached, maniac experimenting with love. His slouchy stance and walking style give off a mad scientist vibe. But we also get the sense that he harbors deep pain and angst from his past, making him more human at times. Sung Joon portrayed his mysterious, aloof yet charming character terrifically. The sharp contrast between the main characters leaves me excited for their seemingly impossible love story.
The romantic front saw a phenomenal development. Soo-hyeon trying to woo Hye-rim in a series of comedic moments especially stood out as a cleverly written sequence. Likewise, a number of compassionate scenes, like how Soo-hyeon quietly followed Hye-rim around during a tragic period in her life, made the drama feel especially realistic. However, it did feel like the romance escalated rather too quickly. While it was enticing to an extent, something felt off and ungenuine about the whole ordeal. It was perhaps Soo-hyeon's lack of sincerity and Hye-rim's foolishness that made it less convincing and rather illogical. But nonetheless, I did enjoy watching the on-screen chemistry between the two. Meanwhile, heart-wrenching scenes were peppered throughout as well to enriched the drama further, making it more than just a rom-com revolving around psychology.
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