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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Special - You're Closer Than I Think"

2017/09/17 | Permalink

The bookish Woo-jin (played by Lee Sang-yeob) is ditched on his wedding day by the more traditionally pretty Seo-yeon (played by Kim So-eun). The rest of the story is about Woo-jin trying to find out what happened to her. Bear in mind that since Woo-jin is not a private detective, and also has a day job, his efforts are mainly limited to making plaintive radio broadcasts for her return. Oh, and there's also that weird moment where he meets another woman (played by Im Hwa-young) who claims to be the real (?) Seo-yeon.

The most important thing to understand about "Drama Special - You're Closer Than I Think" is that it not a potboiler mystery. You could certainly be forgiven for thinking so, looking at the individual shot composition. Director Choi Yoon-seok-II devotes a lot of artistically styled cinematography. There's dutch angles, thematic empty space, the classic sinking into the bathtub spot, aerial shots, and even a suitably distinctive lingering shot on a stylized restaurant menu.

There's even the requisite ominous mood setting, of how Seo-yeon's disappearance can be explained by a suitably horrible secret. Without getting into spoilers, I'll admit that I was somewhat underwhelmed by said horrible secret, mostly because I was expecting something in the dramatic potboiler mystery vein. In full perspective, though, it's pretty clear that "Drama Special - You're Closer Than I Think" was probably originally storyboarded as a standard melodrama.

Because I mean, really, everyone is crying all the time. Which again, looking back at the character designs, is pretty easy to parse. Woo-jin bonds with Seo-yeon over literature, after all, and The Little Prince in particular. Fundamentally all the characters arcs here revolve around loneliness. That's why Woo-jin's alleged best friend Do-yeong (played by Kwak Hee-sung) doesn't do much aside from provide opportunities for exposition.

Although really, "Drama Special - You're Closer Than I Think" is barely even Woo-jin's story at all. Everything revolves around Seo-yeon. Which is frustrating, because on balance we get more ambiguous flashbacks foreshadowing Seo-yeon's running off on her wedding day than we do of Woo-jin and Soo-yeon ever actually being happy together. Photographer Soon-taek (played by Dong Ha) likewise gets far less exposition than we would expect, considering the production team goes to the trouble of giving him a happy ending. Soon-taek's photography is more interesting than Soon-taek himself- although Dong Ha, like all the other actors in "Drama Special - You're Closer Than I Think", is at least pretty good at subtly emoting.

Review by William Schwartz

"Drama Special - You're Closer Than I Think" is directed by Choi Yoon-seok-II, written by Choi Mi-kyeong and features Lee Sang-yeob, Kim So-eun, Dong Ha and Im Hwa-young.

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