Sinking in the Swamp of Sadness – Review – I Miss You

Sinking in the Swamp of Sadness – Review – I Miss You

Well, this drama was a big ball of bawling.  If you made a drinking game involving how often the characters broke down into hysterical tears, you’d be drunk off your ass before the end of episode two, possibly a danger to yourself and others by episode four and definitely dead from alcohol poisoning by episode six.  Meanwhile, the show would keep crying without you, pouring booze on your fresh grave until the very end of the drama.  Now we know how Artax felt.

Ironically, the saving grace of this show wasn’t the excessive sadness.  The lighthearted moments, the sentimentality, and the stellar cast managed to pull what would otherwise be a huge disaster up onto the shore – leaving a mangled but otherwise recognizable ship of Korean melodrama.  Thus it manages to be decent.  Not great, not even good… but watchable.  If you’re in the mood.

Overall Rating:  5/10.

Glass Half Empty or Glass Half Full?  Let us discuss….

SPOILERS FOLLOW

The young cast members outshone the adults in this show.  Kim So Hyun and Yeo Jin Go were mesmerizing as the young female and male leads.

 

Kim So Hyun played a young woman who was an outcast at school and in the neighborhood for being the daughter of a convicted murderer.  Yeo Jin Go played the young rich boy who decides to become this girl’s only friend.  They’re so cute together that it’s hard for me to find the proper way to word it.  A basket full of kittens?  They are also incredible actors – and I eagerly await watching them grow up and being cast as main leads in future dramas.

 

Their happiness is short lived, naturally.  A series of events leads to their kidnapping – and the gritty rape of our young female lead.  The boy escapes, leaving her behind in a blind race to save himself and find others who will help him save his honey.   It’s completely understandable.  He was traumatized and only a teenager, after all.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t get back to her fast enough and she disappears – leaving him to wallow in guilt and self loathing for the remainder of his youth until they are reunited again fourteen years later.

This scene showing the grown male lead talking to his memory of the young female lead was one of the more interesting flash-forward-backwards moments of the show…

An interesting twist here.  Our rich boy abandons his own family and moves in with the missing girl’s family.  He becomes their surrogate son and the scenes of how he’s adapted to this new life – with a new sister and mother – are both touching and warm.  He calls his new mother “girlfriend” and is constantly hugging her and making her laugh, which reveals a new side to her character.  Before, she was just a sobbing alcoholic mess of a woman.  Our male lead abandons the life of privilege and joins the police force – following in the steps of the only adult man who showed him fatherly love (not his father, who is a blank slate of a character that doesn’t deserve discussion).  For fourteen years he’s embedded himself into the missing girls life – both as a replacement and a place holder for her return.  Nicely done, k-drama.

Our female lead, we discover later, escaped the kidnapping only to be hauled off by a mysterious woman and a young boy – who happened to have the key to enormous stolen fortune.  They go abroad and reinvent themselves.  The young lady abandons her name and her past and becomes the sister and would-be-wife of the young boy as they grow up thick as thieves.  By the time we see them again, fully grown, the mysterious woman has already perished and our two youngsters are wealthy socialites returning to Korea for business.  They’re kinda sad shells of human beings, really… prone to massive insecurity and neediness.  Which seems okay – as she was persecuted for her father, then raped and then hit by a fucking car (what a crap day, huh?)… and he was mauled by dogs, taken from his mother, locked in a room for a few months and then hauled off to Europe by a complete stranger.  Poor kids.

BEFORE…

and AFTER.

Let me just say that Yoon Eun Hye has never looked more appalling than she did when she first shows up in this drama.  For a few episodes, they had her sporting an odd brown-red-blonde hair color and equally unattractive bright purple lipstick.  She looked hideous.  Just… awful.

Thankfully, someone finally slapped some sense into the stylist, because after a few episodes she started to look like the beautiful A-List actress we know and love.

Park Yoo Chun is as handsome as always.  He and Yoon Eun Hye have pretty good chemistry and it was fun to watch them reunite – even though she denies her identity forever and a day, even when EVERYONE knows.  Though uncomfortable for us all, it was unique to watch the romance unfold.  Our male lead working through his guilt and remorse over abandoning her so many years ago.  Our female working through her anger and resentment for having been abandoned.  At the same time, the practical part of your brain will have a hard time with this.  Jesus, kids, you were kids!  And something horrible happened to you both!  It’s okay to forgive yourselves and each other.  But practicality and melodrama are oil and water, my friends, they just do not mix.  So turn off that rational part of your brain and go with the emotional gut punches of these two tortured souls.

Rounding out the love triangle (not really) is Yoo Seung Ho, who wins the award for most perfectly shaped eyes in the history of Asia.  Wow.  He’s such a beautiful young man.  I still remember him getting spanked by Bidam in Queen Seon-duk (literally spanked) and he was excellent in that show too.  I also loved him as the melancholy assassin in Warrior Baek Dong Soo.  He has a very youthful and serene face, but there is a great deal of age in his eyes – a weary ancient sadness – enough that it is easy to believe he is a clever, conniving genius who will slowly overthrow world order.

The rest is just semantics.  Seriously.  The plot is a mesh of underdeveloped side characters and situations that don’t make a lot of sense.  Something about stolen money and revenge and then there’s the whole confusing mess of “my rival is my uncle?  Or are you my cousin?  Or… step brother?  Huh?” and it doesn’t hold much weight.  They put all their effort into the tortured romance – and didn’t bother much with the reasons behind their misery.  Neither will you, I wager.  I certainly didn’t care.  Yoo Seung Ho’s character didn’t stand a chance.  Against first love?  Against Park Yoo Cheun?  Geesh.  You just have to endure his pathetic attempt to salvage his small, unstable world… which you know, I know, and everyone else knows is doomed for failure.  Poor sod.

So, watch it for the tears, if you’re in the mood.  Watch it for the sweet but ultimately sad youthful romance.  Watch it for the performances of these very talented actors.  But don’t expect too much.  The foundation of this plot is soaked in tears… which may be why its so murky and unstable.  There are some good romantic scenes to ease your pain while wading through the Swamp of Sadness.

 

 

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