21 April 2021

K Drama Review: Persona (2019)

As I mentioned in my Moon Lovers review, Oppa seems to be serious about watching all of IU's dramas. He said we were going to watch You are the Best next but he now seems to be intimidated by the 50-episode series. :D So he picked something shorter (way shorter) this time. 

We watched Persona, a series with four different short stories directed by four different people but all featuring Lee Ji Eun. I admit that I was concerned about the length, with each episode running no longer than 27 minutes. I prefer longer dramas where all the stories are threshed out and I didn't feel I'd get that in this kind of show. Well, I was half right and half wrong. But I would have to say it was better than I expected. 

Love Set 

The first episode featured IU as the daughter of Kim Tae Hoon (Reply 1988 and Angry Mom). IU's dad was set to marry Bae Doona whom IU did not approve of. The two girls agree to settle everything through a tennis match. Whoever wins will get what she wants, i.e., whether or not the marriage should push through. 

Kim Tae Hoon had the most limited screen time among the actors but I would say that he delivered well. He seemed unaffected by the psywar between the two women in his lives. It was nice to see him in a non-jerk role, different from his character in Angry Mom. 

It was our first time to see Bae Doona in a drama. We saw her recently as the first guest on the second season of House on Wheels. She looked credible as a legit tennis player here. Her intensity was believable. 

IU played the role of the bratty daughter well too. She did look quite unhealthy and unfit but that was probably intentional.  

I found this episode just okay. I sort of felt that I needed a backstory here to fully appreciate what was happening.Without it, the two women just seemed petty and immature to actually use tennis to resolve their issues. 

Collector

I was prepared to like this episode. After all, it had Park Hae Soo (as Baek Jeong U), whom we loved in Prison Playbook. But this turned out to be the episode I liked the least. 

IU as Eun and Jeong U are dating but Eun seems cold and distant. IU did really well as a bored, haughty, and disinterested girlfriend. This was reminiscent of Man Wol from Hotel del Luna and Cindy of The Producers

Eun went on a trip without telling Jeong U. And worse, Jeong U caught her kissing another guy. When he confronted Eun, she demanded a concrete proof that he loved her. She asked for his heart, which he plucked out from this chest. 

It was nice to see Park Hae Soo's softer side here, especially when he was begging Eun to stay with him. Although I still prefer him as a toughie like Je Hyuk in Prison Playbook, he was not bad as a softie either. 

Unfortunately, my love for Hae Soo was not enough for this episode to win me over. I didn't quite dig the harvesting of the heart stuff and Jeong U's wild imagination that included him being beheaded. I just couldn't find sense in this episode. 

Kiss Burn

This episode was my most favorite among the four. I enjoyed it the most because it was the most realistic and normal. 

IU as Han Na was a high school (I think!) student. She went to the house of her classmate Hye Bok (Shim Dal Gi of Hospital Playlist) to check on why she missed class. Hye Bok's dad (Lee Sung Wook) refused to let Han Na see her friend. But Han Na got her chance that night when the dad left for his job as a forest fire watcher. 

Hye Bok had hickeys all over her neck, thanks to a random guy she met on the beach. But the bigger problem was that her hair was severely damaged because her dad cut it when he came home drunk. Han Na and Hye Bok plan their revenge against the dad but nothing seemed to work. 

Hye Bok almost burned her house after she carelessly threw a lit cigarette in the chicken coop. When they thought that they've solved the issue, Han Na and Hye Bok left for the beach. Unknown to them however, they burned one chicken that was able to escape the coop and that eventually burned down the house. 

I loved the irony of having a forest fire watcher's house burn down from well, a forest fire. I also liked how whether it was intended or not, Hye Bok and Han Na were able to complete their revenge against the abusive dad with that fire. 

Shim Dal Gi was great as the coy and innocent friend. Although IU played the role of a student here, this was nowhere near Pil Sook of Dream High. Her angst and boldness actually reminded me of Ji An in My Mister

I loved how clear the motives and reasons were behind the characters' actions. The story was simple but meaningful. It's one of those shows that's fine as a short drama but I can also imagine it having an extended run. It would be nice to know who the dad was suing since there were several scenes showing him reading about filing complaints and actually holding a complaint. I would also like to know what happened after the fire. 

Walking at Night 


This was my second most favorite episode. It had Hotel del Luna feels but admittedly a darker one because it involved suicide. 

IU as Ji Eun committed suicide and the drama is set in her boyfriend K's (Jung Joon Won) dream. The two talked about their relationship and the reason behind Ji Eun's death. 

I liked the subdued and restrained acting of IU and Jung Joon Won. I felt K's internal conflict - sadness and guilt over Ji Eun's death and anger for being left behind. 

I loved how this episode touched on a sensitive topic like suicide matter of factly - without judgments but without glamorizing it either. I felt Ji Eun's pain when she said that she did it because of loneliness that seemed to have no end in sight. 

If Kiss Burn was simple but meaningful, this episode was definitely deep and very meaningful. It conveyed so much in so little time. 

Overall

The first two episodes confirmed my fear that short dramas are unable to present fully-developed stories. Because I didn't know their backstories, I didn't know if it was valid and acceptable for IU to dislike Doona for her dad. Was Doona evil? Or was IU just a brat? As regards Jeong U, was he really boring that caused Eun to break up with him? Was Eun really mean to demand someone's heart physically but leave that person anyway? 

But the last two episodes proved me wrong. They were complete stories by themselves. And while they left me longing for more, they were sufficient on their own. I guess you don't really need a lot of time when you have a good story to tell. 

Overall, I liked how the episodes progressed - from the petty tennis match to decide a marriage to harvesting a heart to prove one's love to helping a friend get her revenge on her abusive dad and finally capped off by a serious and heavy topic involving suicide. And while we should not be saying the obvious, I'll say it anyway - IU was spectacular in all four episodes AGAIN. This series is proof that she can hack whatever role you give her. 

Oppa says...4.8.

Noona says...4.5. 


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