Saturday, 22 April 2017

KDrama Review : Page Turner

The much dreaded end of my 2-week Easter Break was drawing nearer, so I desperately needed a new KDrama on my plate. Since I won't be getting any more study breaks any time soon, I might as well go all out on my KDrama pursuit this Easter Break right? Hashtag Sheera's logic. A couple of KDramas came up on my radar upon friends' recommendations, so I gave them a go.

I wasn't sold at all by their first episodes, but I had hope and I had curiosity, which warranted a chance to push past the first episodes and see where the dramas were headed. But still, I couldn't bring myself to finish both dramas.

My brain just. Couldn't. Do it.

In all honesty, I really wanted to finish both dramas, so that even if I didn't like them in the end, I'd at least be in a place where my judgement is valid since I would have seen the dramas in their entirety. But I have this principle whereby I shouldn't feel obliged to finish a certain Korean drama just for the sake of finishing it, because why should I? It's like quickly swallowing a massive dinner in one bolus just so I can do the dishes, you do it as a chore, the fun's no longer there.

Maybe it's not the dramas' fault, maybe they really are good in their own merits, maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm just picky and hard to please and the KDrama rut that I was stuck in was a duly deserved penance.

And then somehow Page Turner came along and I decided to click on that play button on a whim.

This drama is virtually unheard of in my circle of friends, so I went into it having no clue whatsoever about what's in store for me but I'm happy to report that I was reminded once again of why I love love love Korean dramas.

You can't really see their faces but L-R : Yoon Yoo Seul (played by Kim Soo Hyun), Jung Cha Shik (played by Ji Soo), and Seo Jin Mok (played by Shin Jae Ha)

It didn't take long to fully immerse my whole body into the depth of the story and to laugh at its ironic humour and to tear up a little at its underlying sombre themes. 

I think it's easy for an adult to relegate a teenager's problems as no big deal, to call a teenager's misbehaviour as a desperate cry for attention. This drama addresses these issues in a manner that I find very poignant and witty, putting forth real dilemmas of adolescence and lacing them with comedic values to give the drama a more cheeky tone. That isn't to say that the problems faced by the youthful characters are mere attention-seeking methods (thus should be dismissed easily), but the drama sheds a light of optimism over it as though to say: this, too, shall pass, so turn that frown upside down. Like when Yoo Seul jumped off what she thought to be the edge of the rooftop after her emotional outburst, only to have Cha Shik catching her like 2 metres below (HAHAHA) and telling her off for playing victim with her mother. 

The row that Yoo Seul had with her mother hit close to home for me, but it's so beautifully resolved when Yoo Seul realised that her declaration to quit playing the piano was actually anger stemming from frustration towards her mother, but misplaced as hatred for the instrument itself. I love that even though that row severed their mother-daughter tie temporarily, it was a catalyst that they both needed - for Yoo Seul to experience that renaissance into piano loving, for her mother to realise that she shouldn't weigh Yoo Seul down with her expectations. What the drama does really well is that not only does it explore the issues from the youngsters' point of view, it also gives an insight from the parents' perspective as well. Yoo Seul's mother not only ended up being Jin Mok's page turner for the competition, but she also gave him sincere compliments at the end of it, for once. And that's a whole lot of pride to swallow.

I'm glad that the one who pushed Yoo Seul to rediscover her passion for the piano is Cha Shik. Good Lord, Cha Shik is suchhhhhh a loveable character!!! Always so positive, so buoyant, so exuberant. It's like there's this invincible bubble of happiness surrounding him that nothing can ever shatter. NOTHING. Not even Yoo Seul's mother's rude remarks about his appearance being similar to a hooligan. He even showed up the next day in a suit and slicked back hair and asked for her approval hahaha. And even when she deplored his sense of style still, he said he'll keep trying to improve. AWWW!

But just because he's All Smiles, All The Time, that doesn't mean he lacks any emotional trajectory. My heart throbbed in pain as he worked through the stages of grief - from denial to acceptance - upon finding out that he had to give up on being an athlete. Contrary to Yoo Seul, Cha Shik is not a born genius in anything. Despite appearing inflated and boasting like nobody's business early on in the drama, I later learned that Cha Shik is just a lad next door who has to start from the bottom & work very hard to achieve something. In times of downer where he questions his own capabilities, it helps to hear from someone else (his mother) that he's indeed born to do something great.

Cha Shik's transition from being a complete piano newbie to being able to impress Yoo Seul solely via self learning required a leap of imagination, but the drama at least managed to show that this wasn't a transition that happened overnight. (How the drama convinced me that Cha Shik's practice went on for weeeeeeks in 1 single episode is beyond me, but impressive writing, directing, everything!) And I appreciate that this drama stayed realistic in the end whereby he didn't actually perform in the competition and even asked Jin Mok to fill in his place (thus enabling not just Yoo Seul's dream, but Jin Mok's too!!!). Isn't Cha Shik a sweetheart?! (heart eyes emoji) What I love even more than him backing out from the competition due to his awareness of his own shortcoming to meet Yoo Seul's standard, was that he was finally able to pull the final recital when he was angry that his mother thought she hasn't raised him right (drowns in a puddle of tears). Anak soleh right here. 

I'm surprised by how moved I was by Jin Mok's character. The many times that he silently helped Yoo Seul without due credits speak volumes of the good natured traits hidden underneath his cold outer shell, but they're mostly fuelled by his guilt. (Also, how CUTE is it that he channels his rage at Yoo Seul's arrogance to praying that God punishes her??) I wasn't fully sold of his character until that scene in the practice room where he played the piano in Cha Shik's place. The look on his face when Yoo Seul showered him with loads and loadsss of accolades and sincere praises!!! I cried!!! He was so close to giving up his dream and that instantaneous moment just cemented his conviction & love for the piano!!! This just goes to show what a world of a difference it can make to say something nice to someone, haih. (side note : I wish Yoo Seul heard Cha Shik's praises about her playing the piano! Man, she'd swoon, because even I swooned)

A page turner is the person who turns the page of the music sheet for the pianist. A page turner is the one standing the closest, assisting the performance, bearing vital importance to ensure the flow of the performance. Yet a page turner is not the star, a page turner always lets the pianist shine the brightest on the stage. Yoo Seul, Cha Shik, and Jin Mok, they're all each other's page turners, taking turns to help each other grow and be the best possible versions of themselves.

All in all, I absolutely loved Page Turner. It reminded me that sometimes it's okay to not have trophies & recognition to validate one's dream, sometimes the act of having a dream so rapturing, so passionate is enough to make one's life worth living. Most importantly, Page Turner revived my love for Korean dramas. This one goes straight into my favourites list!

It's super short, only 3 episodes, but it moved me and made me laugh and cry and it's just incredibly well made despite its minor flaws here and there. So I COMMAND YOU TO WATCH IT, GO, RIGHT NOW, PLEASE, TRUST ME ON THIS.

Man I'm overjoyed that I heeded my instinct to click that play button and managed to squeeze this amazing drama before my Easter Break officially ends.

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