When I came into episode 1 of God’s Gift: 14 Days, I admit I was totally and completely skeptical. What K-drama would include a level headed, happily married woman as the lead with a plot revolving around her daughter? None, right?
Evidently not, because I’m totally impressed by the presentation of 14Days from the perspective of a typical mother. I love how ordinary Kim Soo-hyun (Lee Bo-young) comes off when dealing with the day to day life of raising a child. Her daughter is a lonely, trusting kid who struggles in school–that’s something we can all relate to and deal with from both the matronly perspective and the child’s perspective. You see Soo-hyun taking her child to school, going to work, meeting teachers, helping her daughter with homework–basically, normal mother stuff. It sounds so natural when I say it on paper, but if you look at the number of dramas that actually create a character like that, it’s rather pathetic.
I’m on the fence about Soo-hyun always having the child on the forefront of her mind, since it overemphasizes the foreshadowing, but I absolutely love how much time the drama spends building a relationship between Soo-hyun and Han Saet-byul (Kim Yoo-bin). Rather than just killing off Saet-byul and driving us into the (soulless) thriller, we get to see the mechanics of the family relationship. This makes the events of the drama meaningful–when Saet-byul is ripped from the arms of Soo-hyun, we can understand her pain completely. We can feel exactly how Soo-hyun’s world crumbles, because we’ve been shown how important Saet-byul has been in Soo-hyun’s life, and the one year time jump really reinforces that fact. It’s so rare in dramas to see a parent-child relationship that is isn’t twisted into a love line, or is inherently dysfunctional. Soo-hyun is not a poor mother. She’s simply a mother that doesn’t completely understand her daughter–what mother ever does?
Han Ji-hoon (Kim Tae-woo) is a refreshing father character in that he actually loves his daughter and wife. He reaches out to Saet-byul in a really kind and effective way when she’s hurt by her mother’s strict parenting, yet doesn’t come off caricature-ish. He, like Soo-hyun, is not perfect at parenting, but he does everything in his power to be a supportive element in the family. I really loved the scene on the morning of Soo-hyun’s birthday where Soo-hyun asks Saet-byul to determine whether her cup or her father’s cup has more water. When Saet-byul gets it wrong, Ji-hoon adorably drinks some water from his mug and tells Saet-byul that she’s right–his cup does have less!
(How nice is it to see a proper family in a drama! I just hope that the “secret” that Ji-hoon supposedly has won’t throw a stupid wrench into the family dynamic. He’s really sweet to Soo-hyun.)
The other side characters are just as cleanly done, though not exactly memorable. Jo Seung-woo‘s Ki Dong-chan is my favorite, since his “Supporter Don’t Ask” job gives his character a ton of personality, be it when he’s interacting with the homeless haraboji, or when he accidentally sleeps with his client. I can’t tell if he’s the same person as the guy with the cross drawn on his face, but whoever that guy is better stick to the show! The scene where mystery dude breaks into the Han house is the perfect kind of comedic relief in this show. It fits perfectly with the constant threat to Saet-byul’s safety, but it’s also totally hilarious.
Despite loving the character of Kim Soo-hyun, I’m not totally into Lee Bo-young’s presentation. Lee’s doing a decent job obviously, but I’m not quite buying into her portrayal of a mother. Her chemistry with Kim Yoo-bin is lacking, and while the Yoo-bin is setting off all cylinders to be a memorable young girl, Lee Bo-young feels passive in her role. By “passive,” I mean that she’s very reactionary when it comes to her acting–you can see Lee Bo-young peek out of Kim Soo-hyun enough that the immersion breaks, especially since Lee Bo-young has never raised a child before and the empathy that would bring Soo-hyun to life doesn’t exist for her.
Though one episode isn’t enough to determine much about a show, the one thing I can totally judge at this point–the directing–is absolutely wonderful. The slight blue filter and smooth camera-work make for a visual treat that isn’t overambitious. The final cuts of the episode were really well done–how the shot lifts from Soo-hyun up through the ceiling and ends with a panorama of the city…. and the gorgeous lighting….swoon.
Anyway, I’m totally checking out at least a couple more episodes. Hopefully it doesn’t crash the great set up in that time, but based on what I saw to today, this looks like a slow burn drama.
(If any of you are wondering, yes I’m still recapping The End of the World, and no, I’m not going to do anything for God’s Gift: 14 Days. There’s going to be half-a-dozen blogs recapping it.)