Thursday, 3 August 2017

Drama Reviews - Dear My Friends (2016)

Dear My Friends is a slice of life drama about a bunch of ahjummas (+ a few ahjussis) who have been friends since elementary school, and their children. It's a rare drama focused on the elderly, and it is certainly not for marathoning imo. It's rather short at 16 episodes but I took more than a week to finish it because I can only watch 2-3 episodes in one sitting before feeling completely emotionally drained.

My favourite ahjumma was definitely Moon Jung Ah (Na Moon Hee), who is absolutely adorable, and also perhaps the most relatable. She has a husband, Kim Suk Gyun (Shin Goo), who is a typical chauvinist that thinks all women should do all the household chores and serve their husband. I was thrilled when she finally left her husband for her freedom! But what I found most relatable about her arc was that of her taking care of her children & their homes. My mum does the chores at home, and sometimes I do shout at her like what Jung Ah's children do. Somehow, strangely, the closer we are, the more carelessly we treat the people around us because we know they'll never leave us no matter what we do.

Jung Ah is also besties with Jo Hee Ja (Kim Hye Ja), a slightly off kilter ahjumma who seems to have led an uneventful life but actually has her own heartbreaking struggles, and who develops dementia. She also has a super cute 'romance' with Lee Seong Jae (Joo Hyun), who is a retired lawyer. They were first loves and met again at church. SO CUTE. Hee Ja is especially close to one of her sons, Min Ho, portrayed by Lee Kwang Soo in a surprisingly good performance.

There's also Jang Nan Hee (Go Doo Shim), a restaurant owner. She has had a feud with ex-best friend Young Won (Park Won Sook), an actress, when Young Won's friend had an affair with Nan Hee's husband 30 years ago. Through the show, they make up and share their struggles.
Nan Hee's one and only child, Park Wan (the goddamn amazing Go Hyun Jung), has lived her life listening to her mother's words, and they have a kinda toxic relationship with many wounds that have yet healed. Wan is the 'main focus' of the story as she often acts as the daughter to ALL the ahjummas. She is meant to be the voice of the younger generation, silently resenting the older generation but reluctantly goes to help them. The scene capped above is absolutely cathartic, heartbreaking and beautifully acted by 2 queens.
Nan Hee also has her parents and a younger brother, and her mum is acted by Kim Young Ok who is super freaking funny lol.

Lastly, there's Choong Nam (Yoon Yeo Jung), who is single as she spent her whole life taking care of her parents, siblings, nieces, nephews and relatives. She is one of my favourite characters because she always seems to have it together and is often the pillar of support for the bunch of friends, and she's even studying for her high school exam!! Such an inspiration!!

The acting was near flawless by this stacked ensemble cast. Honestly wouldn't have expected anything less though. I was surprised by Jo In Sung, who is one of the younger cast credited as 'special guest' but actually appears in almost every episode. He plays Wan's boyfriend who is staying in Slovenia, and I think this is his best role & performance since What Happened In Bali.

Writing was also great, and I'm so so happy and thankful Noh Hee Kyung wrote this drama. She always writes realistic characters and this time is no different. One of the best examples would be, Suk Gyun, who was written as the bad husband who is mean to everyone, but extra mean to his wife, but he also had his redeeming qualities that were very consistent with a man of that generation.

Directing was solid, but one major complaint would be the unnecessary lengthening of the episodes in the later episodes. It's not bad as in there weren't unnecessary plot fillers, but definitely too much time was spent on certain scenes, that made me become bored. A real pity, in this otherwise perfect little drama.

This drama made me shed tears at many times, often in the most quiet, understated scenes, and serves as a good reminder that our parents would not be here forever, and most importantly, "they are the protagonist of their own lives", not just there to play a supporting role in yours.