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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Special - The Reason We Can't Sleep"

2017/10/22 | Permalink

Yeong-jae (played by Im Ji-kyu) is a comics illustrator who, due to the stress of being unable to find gainful employment in his preferred profession, has taken to exercising at night to deal with his insomnia. Yoo-jeong (played by Im Se-mi) is a writer who lives in a nearby building, who is also suffering from insomnia, for the same basic reason. But Yeong-jae's exercise is so loud she decides to blame him for her sleeping problems.

The main factor working against "Drama Special - The Reason We Can't Sleep" is its obvious romantic predictability. We know that Yeong-jae and Yoo-jeong are going to get together romantically, because it is adorably cute to watch them yell at each other. It also takes surprisingly little time for Yeong-jae and Yoo-jeong themselves to figure this out, mainly because one of their big stressors is the fact that they don't really have any friends.

This cuts into the social commentary, which is the main relevant factor "Drama Special - The Reason We Can't Sleep" has going for it. Even though the performances have an obviously light romantic comedy tone, the script has quite a few moments of serious darkness. Yeong-jae and Yoo-jeong frequently stress out about money, and struggle to think about the most effective way to spend it. Yoo-jeong often falls back to trying to play an apparently unwinnable crane game, because there's just something so intoxicating about coming that close to success.

What Yeong-jae and Yoo-jeong most seriously lack are good coping mechanisms to help them unwind themselves. The psychic toll it takes on them is so severe that even with each other they will take to obvious bickering. The big climax scene in the hotel is powerful because it's another one of those great moments where the lead characters consciously decide to think in a positive, romantic way instead of falling back to the logical cynicism they have been so constantly conditioned to think is rational.

After all, corny love stories are the exact opposite of realistic- supposedly what people want. Yet the fuzziest moments, the ones that seem most worthy of reproduction, are naturally of the very positive relationship Yoo-jeong has with her dad. It's hard to dislike this kind of stuff, just as it's hard to hate the very goofy dysfunction we learn that Yeong-jae has near the end. That's an odd way to conceptualize love, as simply being unable to hate. But then that's what I love (hoho) about "Drama Special - The Reason We Can't Sleep"!

Review by William Schwartz

"Drama Special - The Reason We Can't Sleep" is directed by Kang Soo-yeon-II, written by Baek So-yeon and features Im Ji-kyu, Im Se-mi, Lee Dae-yeon, Hwang Young-hee, Kim Kang-hyun, and Ryu Abel.

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