THE OLD BALL AND CHAIN OF A CONTRACT MARRIAGE
Kang Hye Soo (Uee) is a single mother who struggles to raise her young daughter, Cha Eun Sung (Shin Rin Ah), while paying off her late husband’s debts. Han Ji Hoon (Lee Seo Jin) is the illegitimate son of a chaebol. Upon hearing that his mother is need of a liver transplant, he goes on a search to find a match and decides to get one through a contract marriage as a last resort. Hye Soo figures it’s an easy way to get out of debt but discovers that she has an inoperable brain tumor. She decides to move forward with the contract marriage in hopes that the money she leaves behind will be enough to support her daughter.
Similar to daytime dramas, there are some expectations that you have to let go when it comes to weekend dramas. Weekend dramas are typically family-oriented dramas and there’s a certain level of predictability. Marriage Contract is no different and while I was expecting a predictable plot, I did enjoy the chemistry in the drama.
I didn’t realize this but it has been years since I’ve actually sat down to watch Lee Seo Jin in a drama. The last time I saw him, he was playing a vampire. Yes, you read that correctly. And yet, watching him in this drama made me feel as if he was just playing a version of himself, a sarcastic and arrogant playboy. While Lee Seo Jin’s strong acting ability shine through, the role of Ji Hoon is such a banal archetype that I wasn’t very interested in his character. As a viewer, I always hope that an actor challenges themselves with each new role they take on and Han Ji Hoon seemed like just another payday for Lee Seo Jin.
As for Uee, while the role of Hye Soo might not be as distinctive a character, I do appreciate that she tries to select different roles in order to futher her acting portfolio. She does a decent job in showing the struggles of a young working, widowed mom, grappling with her illness.
Unfortunately, I found that during the extremely emotional scenes, Uee’s crying was a bit off putting and distracting. I get that she’s trying to express pain and there’s no such thing as crying prettily but it was something that bothered me.
And the reason why it bothered me is that the story is so predictable that it doesn’t equal the level of pain the characters feel in the drama. I get that the shock of her diagnosis and the pain of not being with the one you love is incredibly emotional. However, because we see it so often in dramas, it’s hard to get to same emotional place as the character if there isn’t a new twist to a clichéd story. Even being prepared for the clichéd story didn’t help reduce the awkwardness of watching the over-the-top emotions on screen.
So we have a story about two people who fall in love despite the numerous hurdles they face (his chaebol family, her illness) and I wasn’t quite sure about how the drama would conclude. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem like the writer had much of a solution either other than wanting to end on a somewhat upbeat note. We had a similar ending to Super Daddy Yeol but what I liked about that ending is that the character grew and changed as the drama developed. Here, I’m just left a disappointing, unresolved ending that did not do much for me.