Monday, 24 July 2017

Drama Reviews - Age Of Youth (2016)

Age Of Youth is a slice of life drama about 5 girls with vastly different personalities sharing the same house, Belle Epoque. It starts off with the introduction of newcomer Yoo Eunjae (Park Hyesoo), who is the youngest. Her roommate is Yoon Jinmyung (the phenomenal Han Yeri), who is the oldest, a business major juggling many part time jobs to make ends meet. Then there is Kang Yina (Ryu Hwayoung), an escort pretending to be a college student, Song Jiwon (Park Eunbin), a super off kilter and crazy girl who has never dated, and Jung Yeeun (Seungyeon) who is dating a douchebag. Each of them have their own demons that they have to work through.

Firstly, I LOVE that this drama focuses on female friendship. A lot of shows focus on bromance, but hardly on the friendship among ladies. I loved everything about their camaraderie, which felt so real. Fighting over the littlest and most petty of things, learning how to live with each other, and being there for each other when their housemate needs it most.
My two favourite scenes showcasing their friendship would be when the 4 of them helped to cover for Jinmyung's part time job at the convenience story when she was stuck somewhere, and when Yina went to rescue Yeeun from making a decision she might regret. Plus the iconic 'I'm her lover!" line LOL.

What makes this show so special to me is that I am in my 20s now and in college and I relate SO MUCH to these characters, whether it's the anxiety of being in an unfamiliar situation, relationship problems, financial struggles, and of course, friendship problems. Maybe the only thing they missed is academic problems haha.

On to the characters, who were all portrayed in a multi dimensional, layered way. Hard to pick a favourite character among all 5, but the standouts for me were Jinmyung and Yina (as for most people, I believe).

Han Yeri is just a great actress. I've watched her in her film debut As One, as well as her short drama Yeonwoo's summer. I was not surprised to see her do well again, and I'm glad more people can appreciate her through this drama. Her character went through a million trials but had the most stoic poker face ever, yet we could tell what she felt with the subtlest of movements. Masterful acting right there. And when she finally lets it out, like the scene where she cries apparently over the fingernail, but actually because she rejected the chef against her heart wishes or when she exploded at that manager, I'm sure everyone's hearts broke with her. Her relationship with Chef was also the cutest! They were definitely by far my favourite couple.

Yina is such an interesting character. Brash, aggressive, pretends to be nonchalant but secretly super caring. I LOVED her from the start. Hwayoung really played her so naturally, and she also has great comedic timing and expressions. She has so much potential as an actress and a pity about the scandal which may or may not have caused her role to be reduced to a cameo in S2. Many of my favourite moments in the show came from her. Like mentioned above, the part when she rescues Yeeun and goes 'I'm her lover!' (BWAHAHA), and the subsequent part where Yeeun pukes on her and she just shouts at her, then helping her anyway and getting wipes and water for her housemate. Or when they had the male party and Song's father came, and Yina tried to hold him back by bowing to him (cos those penis shaped balloons were on the wall LOL), then tried to bow to him a second time. Or when she pretends to be disinterested in Yoon sunbae's interview, then RUNS AFTER HER BUS to try to give her the shoes. She's like the typical male lead in a drama, except she's female and just a great friend.

Eunjae's quiet and shy type is not really my favourite kind of character, but she had her moments of outbursts. And her relationship with her sunbae was really cute! Though I wish she opened up more to him though. Yeeun's boyfriend-clinging ways, I definitely can't relate to, and I wish they didn't go so far as to having him kidnap her, but I did like her growth and the way the show dealt with her PTSD. She is actually a very very realistic character - always aware of the faults of others but never her own. And lastly, Jiwon, the resident craycray. Her antics made the show and glued the girls. I liked that she didn't have a dark secret, because otherwise it'll be too much lol.

The directing was abit choppy at times, and I often got confused when we switched situations so quickly. But I did like the colour palette used, and the OST was gold.
The writer is Park Yeon Seon, who wrote one of my all time favourite dramas, Alone In Love. I actually didn't know what I was getting into when I started this on a whim on the plane, but I saw the writer's name appear and knew that I would love it. Alone In Love is similarly quiet, understated but had so many heartfelt moments. There were so many great quotes by the characters, but I'm just gonna leave my favourite.
"Jiwon: “Everyone has their own circumstances to deal with, and until you know the circumstances they’re in, you cant tell people how to live their lives. You could have something like that too. Something about you that others can’t understand, but you can’t help.”"
My only gripe with the writing here was that I felt the last 2 episodes were abit weaker compared to the rest of the series, but that didn't take away my enjoyment of the whole series. 

All in all, a super different but meaningful and heartfelt drama that I would highly recommend. If only to watch Han Yeri's acting!!