Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Reply 1994: Little Things Mean A Lot

It’s the little moments that make a lifetime. Those sepia-colored details that other people didn’t even notice as they happened. Reply 1994 does not do fast-paced. Far from it. But it does know how to capitalize on the little things. And sometimes, in the end, they turn out to be not so little after all. Here are a few that left me smiling this week:

All in the Family

One of the reasons it’s so easy to root for Oppa is because he’s already a longtime member of this crazy, country bumpkin family. The four of them sitting in a row, watching the hit parade on TV just warmed my heart. Not that the outrageous dancing hurt, either. I especially liked Trash’s cross-legged bouncing behind the more exuberant Na-jung.

Oooh. Buuuuuuurn! 

How many times have we watched the hero tell his girlfriend she shouldn’t be jealous because the other woman is just a buddy? They’ve always been close. She would never think of him that way. Meanwhile, the second lead schemes and plots and does all sorts of horrible things to break the OTP up. So how much did I love the moment when Oppa’s pretty colleague offers to pick his mother up and his response is: “Why should you?” There was so much sub-text in that moment. “Who are you to pick my mother up? That’s not your job. You’re not my girlfriend. So let’s not even go there.” Trash Oppa can be pretty dense, so the fact that he picked up on the impropriety of her suggestion and shot it down immediately just made me love him all the more.

Don’t leave me! 

Sometimes I wonder which choices come from the actor, director, or writer. That heartbreaking gesture when Trash is packing up the truck and Na-jung just follows behind, holding on to the back of his shirt. So good. A big handclap for whoever thought of it. That small act encapsulates how hard it is to say goodbye to someone you love, even when you know you have to let them go.

Reunited and it feels so good 

Welcome back, 1997! The bus scene was great. Hilarious. But I loved the extra stuff that we weren’t expecting even more. Hak-chan being tutored by Najung-ah and just as awkward as ever. And our original Answer Me couple being the noisy neighbors upstairs. When Shi-won opened the door I got so happy. I love the reminder that she and Yoon-jae keep on living and loving and screaming at each other in Busan dialect long after the credits of Answer Me, 1997 rolled.

‘Til Death Do Us Part 

Die-Die won me over pretty quick. She sits quietly with her dainty, little hair bow, and then downs a potent potful without blinking. Just to save the cute hoobae beside her. It’s a testament to the acting and the writing that I liked this couple together even though they only had two episodes to sell it. The whole “Confirmation” scene with her and Binggeure hearkened back to the original series when Yoon-jae stole a kiss from Shi-won at the water fountain. That moment ended in a beat-down, but what would be the result this time? When our shy med student awkwardly went for it, you had to hold your breath to see where this was going. Would this end in love or rejection? Kudos to the director’s choice of focusing in on Binggeure’s face to let us know. When he opened his eyes for that split second and then softly closed them again, you knew she had him. No dialogue necessary. Such good storytelling.

This week gave me that happy, contented feeling like when you’ve just stuffed yourself with a plateful of your mom’s best Thanksgiving leftovers. I know the Chilbongie shippers must be livid at his small amount of screen time. But there’s still four episodes to go. Plenty of time for the angst later. Right now, I’m going to sit back and enjoy my K-drama comfort food.

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