Binocular View: My Girl (2005)
Having recently finished My Girl and as i try to recover from the fact that i can’t believe it reached an end, a question keeps popping up in my mind. Why hadn’t i watched it all this time? I had been missing a sparkling diamond in the world of dramas. As for now, even if the question still lingers, the answer doesn’t really matter since the overall journey with My Girl was a more than rewarding experience from the very beginning to the very end. Ten years later, i didn’t quite expect a 2005 drama to feel so fresh and timely, especially when it comes to the cinematography factor. My arch assumptions were all wrong and i treasured every single part that consisted of the romantic comedy puzzle My Girl is. Being an avid fan of pre-2005 movies/dramas, i expected less but i received back a whole lot more to the point i feel overwhelmed by My Girl’s meaningful simplicity and grandiose sufficiency.
The overall attempt was of high importance in the first place and judging from the outcome, it rewarded and established many people partaking in My Girl in their future careers. Behind the scenario stand the almighty Hong sisters (You’re Beautiful, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, Master’s Sun) and My Girl was their second drama attempt after Sassy Girl, Chun Hyang. As for the director, it’s Jeon Ki Sang (To the Beautiful You, Boys Over Flowers) who’s behind the overall presentation of the drama and he had already worked with Hong sisters on Sassy Girl, Chun Hyang. As for the actors and actresses? We’ve got a pretty strong cast. My Girl was the drama that established Park Shin Yeon and Lee Jun Ki in the the world of South Korean dramas and they are the female and male second leads in My Girl, Kim Se Hyun and Seo Jung Woo respectively. As for the first leads? Lee Dong Wook presents the sane and tranquil Seol Gong Chan and Lee Da Hae depicts the quirky world of Joo Yoo Rin! By their side stood many distinctive figures that left their own impact in My Girl, some of them are well known, some others less known, but all of them served their purpose well as part of the drama. I’m referring to Lee Eon Jong as Gong Chan’s right hand, secretary Yoon, Jeon Han Heon as Yoo Rin’s father, Jo Kye Hyung and Hwang Bo Ra in their brother-sister relationship as Yoo Rin’s friends, Jin Kyu and Jin Sim respectively, Byun Hee Bong as the almighty grandfather, Choi Ran and Ahn Seok Hwan as the hilariously dramatic couple in Gong Chan’s family and Kim Yong Rim as Jung Woo’s mother who’s a poisonous in a civilized manner ahjumma.
Gong Chan’s grandfather is bedridden on the verge of dying. He has one last wish before departing from this world, to see once again his precious granddaughter. Gong Chan and secretary Yoon set sail on a journey to find his cousin, but the information they receive leans towards the great earthquake of Japan and that his cousin didn’t survive. The quirky story between Gong Chan and Yoo Rin begins on Jeju island’s ground and eventually Gong Chan, who notices Yoo Rin’s ability to lie as a master con artist, proposes her to become his long lost cousin in the near future, taking into consideration that his grandfather won’t be around for long. However, at Yoo Rin’s presence, who resembles grandfather’s daughter and could actually be his real granddaughter, the grandfather feels rejuvenated and the urge to live burns twice as brightly. It’s a long path in a world of fake and real cousins and the quest in between when the past haunts the present in search of answers and twists. Steadily, the world of My Girl becomes a lovers’ star-crossed universe where truth and lies walk hand in hand on a journey of heartbreaks and remorse, but also warmth and heartfelt vibes with brave amounts of laughter.
Even though we’re talking about a 2005 drama, the cinematography factor is exceptional. Even though its scenario doesn’t rely in immense depth, it’s a very demanding drama when it comes to cinematography. Its airing time is divided between indoors shooting and various outdoors landscapes and places, somewhere between nature and modern architecture. Having to keep the urban feeling of a metropolis and the luxurious aspects of an enterprise or a household at like-minded high standards in one hand while trying to depict the natural aesthetic of many different landscapes and do justice to the surrounding environment on the other hand requires skills and director Jeon Ki Sang lived up to every expectation. Of course, a landscape is a landscape and buildings are buildings, the real magic relies upon the way the characters are being presented in any possible place as they steadily forge themselves, their feelings and interactions as the storyline progresses. Truth be told, with the hand on the place where the heart lies, through angles and perspectives, but also utterly representative closeups, My Girl’s characters were wonderfully presented inside four walls or in the open, in motion or statically, and they were vivid and audience-friendly to the extent you could easily participate in their happiness, their quirky moments, in scenes were silence was louder than words and under the blue veil of melancholy. Through Jeon Ki Sang’s lenses we had the chance of cherishing each and every aspect of the characters’ daily lives on the crossroad where truth and lies fight between reason and emotion, noble idiocy and clarity.
The last bulwark of success, when everything else flows in an unerring way, is the soundtrack. My Girl has one of the most memorable OSTs around the world of dramas, there’s not only one song that will captivate you and the rest will be accompanying parts of the ongoing vibes. As an entity, it stands proud and with each and every song it does justice to every single scene, enriching and eventually completing the emotional charge or humorous aspects of the moment. One big plus is the fact that, no matter how much you might listen to it, it never gets old or boring, every time feels like the first time and that’s one of the most special characteristics of a highly memorable OST that doesn’t necessarily succumb to ear-friendly methods in order to appeal, it never loses in quality whereas at the same time it captivates the interest of the listener once and for all. It’s a universal truth that modern dramas don’t walk hand in hand with OSTs that are bound to occupy a part of your brain within timeless boundaries, not to that extent. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but most of the dramas that came to life from the middle 90s up to the middle 00s were usually being accompanied by highly memorable and quality OSTs that can stand on their own as albums, even if you haven’t watched the drama.
As for the storyline, as i said above, even if it doesn’t rely in immense depth, it’s due to its simplicity through which the characters shine and their progress feels natural and palpable. Sometimes simple is harder to be accomplished because it’s easy to walk on wrong footsteps and lose the meaning, but Hong sisters managed to adorn My Girl’s simplicity with distinctive moments, strong and memorable symbolism and character build bound to capture your senses through an ongoing repetitive motive that never gets old, on the contrary, the more it progresses the more you cherish it. It feels like love at first sight and you definitely want to find out how it moves on and breathes until the very end.
The Lee couple, Dong Wook and Da Hae as Gong Chan and Yoo Rin, is a highly memorable, distinctive and adorable one, you can’t help but worship them. It’s the stellar chemistry of two ostensibly opposite characters who through their interaction steadily trespass each other’s boundaries and earn new characteristics that were never part of their personality in the first place, but eventually became an integral part of them as unique beings solely, but as an entity as well. You have to love how Gong Chan steadily becomes a more sane male version of Yoo Rin and how Yoo Rin step by step turns into a more quirky female version of Gong Chan, without losing their very soul and essence. You could refer to it as a progressive transformation while always paying tribute to their roots. Their back to back monologues are a piece of art and they are utterly heartrending or hilarious, depending on the occasion. The moments they share are distinctive, whether they are inside Gong Chan’s car or inside the elevator or at places that eventually became monumental for what they share, they possess their own beauty, heartbreak and meaning. As for their snow moments, snow will never be the same to me after having watched My Girl. It will always be Joo Yoo Rin’s birthday and even though it was simplistic and overused throughout the drama, it never lost even the slightest part of its purpose, it could only get stronger and more emotionally fortified and that’s what happened. One of the most humorous parts in My Girl are the drama within a drama scenes from X-Files to Leon and James Bond, etc.
Yoo Rin is a con artist with conscience and her ultra humorous and avidly quirky character are a self-defense mechanism so as to survive in this cruel world. Lying isn’t a bad habit, it’s something she had to invest in so as to remain safe and pretty much alive due to her father’s endless wrongdoings. Lee Da Hae simply shines as Joo Yoo Rin and her trademark smile, you know, the one that even her eyes are smiling as they resemble two crescent moons, is omnipresent through the whole duration of the drama. But you can’t help it either but deeply feel for her in her darkest moments. My Girl is one of these dramas that even during the same scene it can make you laugh and then kill you right away. Gong Chan is a righteous grandson and a tranquil person in general. A hardworking and sane businessman as he is, he’s always trying to fulfill his duties and above all he places his grandfather, until he meets Yoo Rin and steadily his point of view on the world starts changing. Dong Wook’s disarming calmness and grimace outbursts shine through his acting and the way the seeds of emotion are being planted deep inside and steadily set sail on a journey to blossom is love in motion when it comes to Yoo Rin. It’s that feeling called love that grows and grows until it can’t be kept as a secret anymore, it’s the maturity of feelings that become straight forward from a crucial moment and on.
Jung Woo is a great second lead, even though he presents himself as some kind of a spoiled player in the beginning, he’s actually quite responsible when it comes to his feelings once he realizes them. Preserving his inner self as pure as possible and being sincere, he tries to earn the heart of Yoo Rin. Even when his heart shuts down his brain and he acts in a wrong way caring only about himself and his own feelings, shortly after he always makes up for his mistakes. Joon Ki has great chemistry both with Dong Wook in terms of bromance, but also when things get tense between them, but he also has some wonderful chemistry with Da Hae when it comes to his unconditional one-sided love and his journey towards her heart. Shi Yeon’s character is a strong second lead as well. Se Hyun was the one to leave behind Gong Chan in his hour of need in order to purchase her own dreams as a well-known tennis athlete. By the time she returns back to South Korea she tries to establish anew the broken bond between them, but once the glass shatters the pieces can’t blend again as if nothing happened. A powerful card between her and Gong Chan is Yoo Rin’s presence at first as a cousin, then as the reason why Gong Chan’s heart keeps beating on a different tune. She will try just anything to be back in Gong Chan’s hands on a quest for utter love by Gong Chan’s side or utter destruction of the main couple’s relationship.
A special reference goes to Jin Kyu and Jin Sim, the brother-sister quirky friends of Yoo Rin and their love and hate relationship along with the chemistry between Jin Kyu and secretary Yoon! I have to confess that for some reason i adored secretary Yoon’s austere beauty and seriousness, but her smiles at the right time, at the right place with the right people were breathing some sort of weird affection! As for madame Bae and mister Jang, those two grownups and their tragic love always succeeded in delivering welcome amounts of laughter, even the way they were staring at each other was full of affection yet hilarious! Madame Jang, Jung Woo’s mother, was a virulent person and madame Bae’s rival, their civilized fights were a pleasant sight! As for the almighty grandfather, all of his three faces were highly representative of his character. He could be overly funny, overly emotional or really frightening and traditional in his point of view, Byun Hee Bong is always representative in his roles as a grandfather! Last but not least, Tae Hyung ahjussi, Yoo Rin’s father, was the typical South Korean drama gambler that ruined his own daughter’s life. He’s prone to the same mistakes over and over again without learning anything proving that gambling is a disease with deep roots as years pass by. In the end, whether our figures, main or supporting, find release for their words and/or actions, it’s up to you to find out.
Despite the noble idiocy factor in the last episodes, the amount of feels and laughter and personal participation/reactions throughout the drama made My Girl an integral part of my drama self and one of the most magnificent drama pieces my eyes have witnessed so far. Truth be told, i already miss it even if it’s only one week since it reached an end. Some guilty whispers in my ear let me know beforehand that i will definitely renew my vows towards its astonishing world in the future, for the time being i want to cherish my drama memories. My Girl is a rendezvous with your senses in an idyllic environment and a screen is not enough to keep you apart.
“At least while it’s snowing can you think of me as the real Joo Yoo Rin?”
My Girl must have drained the life out of my body because one day after i finished it i entered a vertigo state of mind. So many feels, so much laughter, so much longing and in the end, release for all the the characters and relief for the audience. If they didn’t present the figure behind the real granddaughter i would have had hit my head upon the wall. She’s Han Chae Yeong who was in Hong sisters and director Jeon Ki Sang’s previous collaboration, Sassy Girl, Chun Hyang. I had seen her in Autumn Tale and here she is again, along with her co-star in Sassy Girl, Chun Hyang, Jae Hee, both of them doing a cameo appearance as a couple in My Girl.
How about putting some kissing scenes too? I loved the chemistry Dong Wook and Da Hae had in My Girl to the extent i was the third person between them in terms of participation, something like the devil or the angel whispering things in their ears through the whole duration of the drama!
And i deeply treasured all the heartrending moments, they always felt like a knife in the heart, but the scenes, dialogues and interactions were so well-conceived and well-executed that i would just welcome at all costs the omnipotent emotional climax.
And i really didn’t want her very own snowball to break into pieces for she cherished it deeply.
And a few more pictures from the one of a kind adorable couple.
Two steps before the end, a sparkling Lee Da Hae!