Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The monster in me

Autobiographical post. Not.
At first, I have to apologize for being biased. I do have some weakness for certain men and I can watch every movie/drama with them even if those are pure crap or mindless stuff (Greatest Love, everybody!). While waiting for Gyebaek, I decided to kill my time by watching a drama I did not have the chance to watch all those years. And those were the weirdest 5 hours in 2011 so far. The drama is about vampires. Yes, you read that right, vampires. Not the ones who sparkle and talk as if permanently constipated. Vampires that look exactly like humans.

   Fine, vampires looking exactly like humans is not a groundbreaking discovery. In fact, it has been explored in movies oh so dozens of times. But one thing remains common - a monster label. For some, the monstrosity is explicitly shown: Max Schreck in Nosferatu (1922). There was nothing human in him. The monstrosity may be shown by metamorphosis of the vampiric character - Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), where vampire may take any form, but usually changes into the animal/creature that has connotations with fear, night and evil - like wolves, bats and even this bat/demon-like creature. The highest level of monstrosity is explored in Twilight saga, when we are treated with vampires that look like cartoon "carnivale" pansy. The fact that none of the actors can act makes the horror even bigger (although after a few bottles of wine, which was never drunk by Count Dracula btw, Twilight concept of vampires becomes incredibly funny). 

   Freeze is nowhere close to all of those. There are only 3 vampires here. They all look like lost children somewhere along the rural road. They live quietly, fitting to the society. Although the main character says that he "didn't want (the girl) to see the monster in him", it looks as if he labelled himself as one. Over 300 years ago, he killed his own younger sister in need for blood, true, and he uses this argument to push Jiyun back, as far from him as possible. 
There are not much characters in this drama, but each and every one is precisely sketched. So we have our 3 vampires: Baek Jung Won (Yi Seojin) who is a calm owner of a restaurant focused mainly on wines, Ihwa (Son Tae Yeong) - who worked as a nurse in a hospital, and another one, at first vampire on the loose who became actually the main reason for the other two to start running again (played by Yi Han Wi). Apart from those, Jiyun (Park Hanbyeol), young girl bound to find the only person in Seoul that has any ties to her, her admirer (played by Lee In ), an alcoholic father (who only after his wife's death started to get back to his senses), and police officer (played by Kim Kwang Kyu). One great character is also the owner of the tatoo salon, played by Ji Dae-Ha, who has to cope with social bias for being gay (note: there is this scene when he's doing a tatoo on a guy's arm, and the guy scolds him whether his mind is somewhere around his lover or what. He then turns his head to the photo of him and his lover and sighs that he should come back around holidays, but still isn't here. The guy's attitude changes instantly after seeing this. He asks whether the needle for tattoing has been sterilized). 

   The story is also not that complicated. A girl's mother passes away. During the funeral a young man appears and Jiyun, who saw a hidden man, very similar to the one before her, on her mother's wedding picture, is certain that he is a son of a man whom her mother loved. Fair enough, reasonable explanation why he showed on the funeral.
Jiyun comes to Seoul and due to her bursting character, Jung Won ends up sheltering her. With time, he starts to develop feelings for her. But there is Ihwa, a woman whose relationship with Jungwon is not that transparent and obvious at all. She supplies him with the blood. As she is co-owner of the restaurant, he also supplies her with money for it.
But under that, there is a wish to die. Jungwon wants to die, but it's not an easy task for a vampire. Sun doesn't kill them.

   Technically speaking, it's not a drama. It's a 5-hour long movie. It is shot exactly in movie technique, not in drama. The music is also beautiful. I liked the lack of haste in it. Everything is calm, dim. There are no gaudy colors, no clean-freaky shots like sometimes in Kdramas. The house of Jungwon is made of concrete and coldness. The camera pays attention to details like books, hourglass, metronome.
There are not much sentences in this drama as well. I have the impression that it is said only what needs to be said. But there is a difference between what is needed to be said, and what is wanted to be said.

   This is not a drama for those who don't like slow action. It focuses more on characters than on actions they perform.
In Jungwon's house there is a picture on the wall. A picture of the fallen airplane. This picture became a center of a peculiar feud between him and Jiyun. She constantly made the picture hang slanted. Jungwon put it back to its proper hanging, but she messed again. In the end, before the last journey, he crooked it.
Considering what happened at the end, the picture of the fallen plane was an ominous sign.
It's not a drama for those who don't like unfulfilled romances. Although we are witnesses of Jungwon and Juyun feelings, there is not much hope for them. Even if Ihwa didn't kill the gangster, even if the police didn't try to capture them - Jiyun was a human. And even though she accepted the true nature of Jungwon, there was not much hope for them. The only one for him was Ihwa, and he knew that all along.

Did I enjoy it? Yes. Probably for the same reasons most of the people don't enjoy this drama. It is a small story, not significant for the history of Kdrama. This is actually a paralel with the lives of those vampires (we don't know what happened to the third one) - whether they are or they don't exist - world doesn't end. World is a tough b*tch, it doesn't notice the burned up candle at all. 
It is a small story of the romance that could never be. No matter how earnestly we may want them to be together.