[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 16 - Final
By William Schwartz | Published on
Now that the story is complete I have little choice but to address the plot problems in "Who Are You - School 2015". To the credit of the production team, the contrived nature of the twin plot and all the other points related to that have never been that big a deal. This is mainly because the narrative itself has never been in focus. "Who Are You - School 2015" is a story about growing up. Although even there weaknesses are definitely present.
I've been somewhat disappointed in the lack of character development on Eun-byeol's part. While it's certainly rewarding to watch her stick it to So-yeong, Eun-byeol's really kind of a jerk to her friends, and "Who Are You - School 2015" has never really addressed that. Aside from a few one-off comments there's no sense that Eun-byeol has really appreciated that what she did wasn't cool. One line of dialogue here even acknowledges that some other person died and was misidentified as Eun-bi. That could not have possibly been pleasant for that person's family.
Eun-bi's treatment is somewhat better in this regard- she is the one, after all, who decided to come clean to her classmates. Although her role as of late has been passive to the point of being rather annoying. "Who Are You - School 2015" doesn't make her too much of a damsel, though, as the ending doesn't really convincingly resolve the love triangle. This isn't as big a deal as it may seem- these characters are just high school students after all. They can just have friends without making everything super dramatic.
A lack of drama doesn't really make for that satisfying a conclusion though. I did like the final portion with I-an. If we've seen his character as being extremely goal-driven, to the point of serious self injury, then the swim meet establishes how I-an is now willing to just take things easy. Life is a compromise between dreams and reality. If there's any lesson a high school student should take away, that would be it.
Even so I'm not going to pretend like "Who Are You - School 2015" perfectly hit all of its expectations. In all fairness the early episodes set the standards a little high in that regard. But I've seen enough dramas and films tackle the topic of bullying with clumsiness that I don't fault the production team for backing down and playing it safe with the serious social commentary. The main draw has always been the sincerity of the performances. Kudos in particular to Kim So-hyun. She's the most talented of a strong lot, yet is one of the few actual teenagers on the payroll.
Review by William Schwartz
"Who Are You - School 2015" is directed by Baek Sang-hoon and Kim Seong-yoon, written by Kim Hyeon-jeong-II and Kim Min-jeong-II, and features Kim So-hyun, Nam Joo-hyuk, Yook Sung-jae, Lee Pil-mo, Lee David, Kim Hee-jung-I and more.
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 email@example.com. 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.