Director Han Ji-seung really loves trees. Seriously, just look at the cinematography here. Maybe it's just the location scouting, but I can't recall ever seeing that many trees in the same (suburban) place before. And it's not just in plant form that we find these behemoths in every frame. Wood also plays a large part in the background proceedings. The texture, the color, the simple serene beauty of nature- that, thematically, is what the camerawork is telling us about the story of "Sensible Love".
It's clear from the get-go that this drama is going to be more about the journey than the destination. Scriptwriter Kim Do-woo makes it clear right away that yes, the action culminates in a romantic affair. Yes, the husband will find out about it. And in the meantime, we're stuck with lots of really long flashbacks where Hee-tae (played by Uhm Tae-woong) tries to puzzle out just how this came to pass. Weirdly, he doesn't even seem all that surprised.
The set-up for the drama has definitely been one of the skeezier bits that's had me worried. A high school teacher having a romance with his student? And to its credit, "Sensible Love" doesn't shy away from this. Il-ri (played by Lee Si-young) may be exciting, attractive, and young, but she's obviously just a kid. Note the camerawork in her bedroom. Il-ri lacks maturity. What's more, Hee-tae doesn't seem to be inspiring her to do better.
...But again, note that a lot of this is partially the manipulation of the framing device. Hee-tae's trying to do a post-mortem of his relationship. The man's focusing on where he went wrong. Particular attention is paid to an event that will happen next episode, that appears to have delayed the relationship for some time. For better or worse? Did Hee-tae and Il-ri really belong together in the first place?
The romantic element at the forefront of this episode is honestly kind of fascinating in that regard. This is, for the most part, just a romantic comedy about a semi-serious guy and a free-spirited woman. It's funny, beautiful in appearance, and very nearly feels wholesome. And yet we know that, for reasons yet unknown, the situation isn't as perfect as it seems. "Sensible Love" is, true to its name, surprisingly down-to-earth considering it's obvious reliance on genre trappings. It's achieved that rare feat in a story- told us exactly what it's planning to do, and expecting us to hang on simply because we want to see how.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Sensible Love" Episode 1"
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