[Review] Chicago Typewriter – 시카고 타자기

LEST WE FORGET

While on a book tour in Chicago, bestselling crime novelist Han Se Joo (Yoo Ah In) comes across an antique typewriter.  Initially, the typewriter’s owner refuses to sell it to Se Joo when he expresses interest in it but upon discovering that it is possessed, the owner becomes spooked and sends it to Se Joo as a gift instead.

Jeon Seol (Im Soo Jung) is a book lover who holds a variety of occupations, including being a veterinarian and delivery person.  She is Se Joo’s number one fan until she delivers the package containing the typewriter and meets him in person and uncovers his prickly persona.  When Se Joo receives the typewriter, he becomes afflicted with writer’s block so much so that his agent recommends a ghostwriter.  Yoo Jin Oh (Go Kyung Pyo) is a talented ghostwriter whose only conditions is that he will writer Se Joo’s next book only if they do not have to cross paths directly.

As the new book is being written, Se Joo begins having dreams about a group of independence fighters, which look like himself and Seol, in the Japanese-occupied Korea in the 1930’s.  He comes to realize that the people in his dreams have a connection with the present day.

In this cinematically rich tale about past lives and unforeseen connections, I was gripped by the mysterious premise and its retro lomo-esque visuals.  The story is very much about its main three characters and what bonds them.  From the prickliness of Yoo Ah In’s Se Joo, to the naiveté of Im Soo Jung’s Seol to the dry wit of Go Kyung Pyo’s Jin Oh, there’s a familiarity with their characters as these actors are experts in playing those type of roles.  And yet, I wasn’t bored with that familiarity as the collaboration of the three made the roles seem fresh in this story.

SG Wannabe – 우리의 얘기를 쓰겠소 (I Will Write Our Story)

SG워너비 – 우리의 얘기를 쓰겠소

Unraveling the past is a huge part of the drama and what keeps viewers engaged in the story is figuring out what happens to our main three characters.  However, I also love using the novel writing as a vehicle for unraveling that story.  In that way, the present day characters are figuring out the various story nuggets and reacting to the plot points along with the viewers.  While this kind of storytelling isn’t new, it certainly heightens the intrigue.

That past takes place in the Japanese-occupied Korea in the 1930’s.  As for the past live characters, I like that they are bohemian artists, like writers, singers and club owners.  Their way of life on the surface is in line with what’s under the surface, their refusal to conform to the idea of Japanese rule over Korea. There are many Korean dramas and movies about this period, often saluting the Korean heroes and their anti-Japanese efforts.

It is certainly an important period of Korean history and it should not be forgotten.  Nonetheless, it’s more effective in dramas to illustrate multifaceted layers of all of its characters whether they represent the drama’s heroes or its villains.  It’s especially unfortunate when it comes to Baek Tae Min (Kwak Shi Yang) as viewers see the tension there between him and other characters but he literally doesn’t do much even until the end.  I understand the need to build the tension but the reveal about his character comes much too early and his character lose its purpose in the overall story.

The drama is beautifully cinematic and it knows how to manipulate the audience by throwing in a number of twists.  Yoo Ah In is just one of those talented actors who is recognized for his dynamic acting and deserves it.  He can also make a kiss scene look damn-well swoony.  I love Im Soo Jung for her ability to make her characters seem down-to-earth, clumsy and charismatic and Go Kyung Pyo is an adorably puppy dog looks and dry wit keep me smiling.  And yet, if the drama put more of its focus on developing the pro-Japanese characters or pacing certain reveals, I think the drama’s conclusion could have been a lot more dramatic and fulfilling.

Rating

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