[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Sound of Magic" Episode 4
By William Schwartz | Published on
Ha-na (played by Ji Hye-won) is a nosy fellow student who keeps trying to investigate Ri Eul because she believes, not entirely unreasonably, that it's rather odd for a middle-aged man to live alone in an abandoned amusement park teaching magic tricks to her classmates. Ha-na isn't really that important a character overall. I bring her up mainly so I can explain that her name can be interpreted as " one " in spoken Korean, as one line of incidental dialog here makes very little sense if you don't know that.
Speaking of symbolic naming, Il-deung can be read as first place. This is highly appropriate, since we see that his parents are fairly ambitious people who want the best for their son and have great expectations of him. To their sense of determination, the revelation that he bribed Ha-na to underperform on the big math test is but a minor obstacle. Yet rather than be happy by that anticlimactic resolution, Il-deung just stews in his own fury wanting someone, anyone, to just get mad at him for a change.
Yet even in terms of teenage angst, Il-deung is once again outdone by Ah-yi (whose name can be read as child in Korean), since her wish comes true and Ah-yi goes into quite, almost completely sublimated rage and grief over the reality of her dysfunctional family. The lead performances of "The Sound of Magic" are quite strong as usual. Hwang In-youp and Choi Sung-eun come from very different places- him from the heartthrob teen drama circuit, and she from independent film.
But both show tremendous subtlety in their performances, and even manage to convincingly look their parts. Hwang In-youp is thirty years old, incredibly enough, only four years younger than Ji Chang-wook in the designated adult role. Speaking of which, Ri Eul has, finally, belatedly become interesting to me, in part because he's been so underexposed lately that the character is now genuinely enigmatic.
Based on what we've seen Ri Eul do and not do, I suspect that his more fantastic magical powers may just be high-performing hypnotism. What Ah-yi and Il-deung learn from Ha-na is genuinely alarming in part because we can see how Ri-eul has been fairly unsubtly nudging them toward rebellion. But even bearing in mind that Ah-yi and Il-deung have been failed in very different ways by their parents, how trustworthy is some mysterious magician anyway?
Review by William Schwartz
"The Sound of Magic" is directed by Kim Seong-yoon, written by Kim Min-jeong-II, and features Ji Chang-wook, Hwang In-youp, Choi Sung-eun, Kim Bo-yoon, Yoo Jae-myung, Kim Hye-eun. Broadcasting information in Korea: 2022/05/06, Fri on Netflix.
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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. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.