Once a week I post something non-beauty I’m enjoying. Today it’s a review of Korean drama I Remember You (which you can watch online on Viki).
Really good shows generally hit the ground running; from the first crisp or engaging shot you get a sense that you are in safe hands, and about to have a very entertaining ride. I Remember You falls into this category – opening with a sly, Sherlock-esque shot that calls out to Conan Doyle’s famous detective, it embarks on the story of an emotionally-detached, genius profiler and the plucky, straightforward female detective he winds up paired with.
Lee Hyun (Seo In Gook) has lived in America for some years, working as a criminal law professor and as a consultant for the FBI. When he receives a mysterious email with details about his long-buried past, it’s enough to pull him back to Korea to investigate a series of murders the police have begun investigating. He quickly crosses paths with determined, kind-hearted Cha Ji Ahn, a fairly low-ranking police detective, who is part of the team working the case. Unbenownst to him, Ji Ahn knows all about him and his past, as their paths crossed years ago. Lee Hyun inserts himself into the investigation, attempting to track down the subtle, evil mind behind a tangled series of crimes…
First things first: the drama is basically a more serious Girl Who Sees Smells, with higher stakes and a higher body count, but the same tongue-in-cheek, bubbly approach to the lead couple interactions, and the same fast-paced, intricately-written approach to the crime plots. There’s a surprisingly psychologically complex exploration of human motivation and the nature of evil. One of the highlights of the drama is watching Lee Hyun, a brilliant man who, despite an incredibly dark background that has come back around to haunt his adult life, nonetheless has an innate buoyancy of spirit that seems to allow him to approach crime – and life – with energy and a sense of humour. The drama refused to go for the cliched haunted-by-his-past tormented man looking for revenge; Lee Hyun has more layers than that and Seo In Gook excels at bringing his quirks delightfully to life.
He plays well, both character-writing and acting-wise, off Jang Na Ra as Cha Ji Ahn. I’ve seen and liked Jang Na Ra well enough before, but never quite thoroughly warmed to her – she tends to play kind women who are slightly put upon, somewhat self-effacing, ala her role in Fated to Love You. In this one, she’s delightfully blunt and adorably quirky, with a quiet, unbeatable persistence. She doesn’t push, doesn’t get in anyone’s faces, but with a cute stubbornness goes after what she wants or needs until said thing (in this case Lee Hyun helping them) caves in. The role fits Jang Na Ra like a glove and if I didn’t know better I’d say it was written for her. She and Lee Hyun have hilarious interactions as he’ll deliver a set-down that should send anyone crying and she just pulls a wry face and keeps coming at him, causing him to laugh and keep teasing her. I normally don’t like noona romances, but Seo In Gook is delivering such an impressive performance (where has he been all these years) and Jang Na Ra is so solid that it doesn’t matter at all; their chemistry is so natural and gradually building. They have a playful, constantly delightful chemistry. I can’t recommend this drama enough.
(You can find the rest of my drama reviews here)