Oops, mind the expletive. I need to rant.
Lee Da Hae, I bow before you.
You see, I actually doubted my girl way before the Ripley premier. I said she hammed her expressions a bit too much. I said she went overboard. I said I wanted to see her work her talent off and prove her worth. I said I wanted more than what she was capable of.
I cannot believe I said that!
I’m sorry I doubted you before, Da Hae ssi. Jeongmal jeongmal MIAHN!
Ripley is not a great drama (yet), might never end up becoming one. You know, sloppy/silly writing and bad editing combined? Illogical plot twists and all. Overwhelming use of horrible BG music? Regardless, I am so still uber uber happy that this drama is bringing out a NEW her. A never seen before her. And the feisty and fiery side of her that we never got to see in the crappy *coughsEOEcoughs*. I’m relieved. I’m proud. As a long time fan.
I must get this out, I’ve seen some comments about LDH being all OTT and self-aware (again) in her acting in Ripley (the criticisms and negativity on her are never-ending, that I have come to terms with). Oh yes, she sure is very self-aware, and very OTT. But guess what? That’s the thing I love about Miri. Her explosiveness. Her going-all-out to the extreme. Her outburst of emotions. All done with acting never seen before from Da Hae. All delivered with acting so raw and detailed, so full on and voluminous.
Miri is essentially one badly damaged and frustrated character. She hails from the lowest of the lowest. Has gone through the worst. And lives with only one goal – to get out. There aren’t many heroines like that I’ve seen in Korean dramas in the past. Sure, we’ve seen enough and countless heroines in dramas who live with goals to make their lives better blah blah blah in spite of their poverty or deplorable life conditions. We’ve seen heroines who toil thru mud and soil to prove their abilities. We’ve seen some who’re not likeable but at least are human enough not to harm others. But have you ever seen a heroine who has to toil thru not only mud, but also thru drags and scum of the earth to make it out? Have you seen one so cunningly manipulative that you’d want to just pull her hair out? I mean technically speaking, a main lead in a drama? I can only count like 5 in my head right now.
I’ve only seen 4 episodes of Ripley, and I can already say that this is LDH’s drama. Not to say that the rest of the cast are not good or anything (seriously, can anyone find any major fault with Kim Seung Woo or Kang Hye Jung? Or even the cute smiley angelic Micky who plays Yutaka? <3333), but in essence, LDH is the one carrying the drama. She really is. The way she transitions from the sweet vulnerable and angelic Miri (albeit all played on pretense) to the scheming, cunning and scarily ambitious Miri is a sole sight to behold for one. 2nd, the way she engulfs herself in those varied and different emotions, the fire, fury and intensity, you just cannot believe that she used to be Su Ah in Green Rose, or Joo Yoo Rin in My Girl. The sweet demure and cute LDH is so gone. So gone. Like my dear friend imogene said before, LDH has totally stripped off her old acting skills and tactics whatsoever, and began from scratch in Ripley.
People will say I’m biased because I love LDH. Probably that’s the reason I’m saying all good about her. Who knows my subconscious mind right? But I seriously honestly think that whatever praises she’s getting for Ripley are warranted and justified. Her acting may not be anywhere near mind-blowing or amazing (yet), but her range alone is enough an intrigue for viewers to enjoy. The intensity she gives into every single side (facade) of Miri, just gripping and fascinating to watch. OTT-ness, sure I see it and at times I think it can be done without, but when she goes all out, all I can say, she’s all explosive, with sheer conviction and passion. You can see it, and feel it.
A lot of times I think Da Hae doesn’t need music or a plot to get her into her EMO mood. She can just do it on que. Maybe that’s why some of us feel some sort of disconnect with characters she play. She’s too engrossed in trying to make her character work that she forgets that she’s part of a drama and ensemble. Has its good and bad. But I think this works very well with her character Miri. Like I said before, Miri is really one different heroine. She’s so occupied with getting out of her lowly life that nothing else really matters to her. She just doesn’t give a damn or shitz about others. Love at first sight by Yutaka? What’s that? Hee Joo’s friendship? A total disgust to her. Working hard to achieve her goals? Those are BS to her. All and what she cares about is nothing more than just getting to a point where she doesn’t have to be looked down upon by anyone anywhere. It doesn’t matter how she does it or get there. And this is the sort of self-engrossed and aware acting of Da Hae which is actually making Miri the way she is in the drama.
It’s interesting and intriguing in a way because Miri is essentially still very early into her scheming plot and her inner guard is still up. She’s still very cautious about how her lies are panning thru. And she knows that she may be busted anytime soon. Altho the drama doesn’t delve deep into her inner thoughts much (which I think could really work better for the plot), I can feel from LDH’s acting that Miri’s still gauging her way thru. She still feels incredibly insecure about her position and fears that one day everything will come back to her. But I really really like that the writer doesn’t make Miri a damsel in distress in this situation (some crying here and there, tearing up at some point, but no nothing of Miri backing off in her plans) and instead gives her more fire and ambition to cover up her lies, to secure her current position.
If you watch closely enough, there is this major role reversal in Ripley. In a normal rom-com, Hee Joo would most definitely be the lovable and endearing lead. And Miri? The resented and detested 2nd female lead who will be chalking up never-ending insults, bashing and antis. Myung Hoon would be main lead as the cold, confident and arrogant hotelier while the nice, sweet and ever-kind Yutaka will always be sit at the back-burner, be the supporting and caring friend. It’s quite refreshing, to see how the writer actually tries to make this whole set-up work. IMO, viewers are still generally more inclined to support characters which are nice, sweet, endearing, bubbly, cute..etc and so on or at least darker characters who have a nice and endearing side to them. Miri is no way near any of that, and doesn’t seem to show any sign of self-conflict or remorse whatever in her whatever she does.
What I love about Miri is that she has so many different sides to her. She is bold, daring, fearless and aggressive upfront. She can be sweet, angelic and kind in a sec, and the next minute she’ll be all nonchalant and disrespectful. Of course, she has her own fear and worries, but she doesn’t fall flat on her own insecurities and let them ruin her plans. Instead, all of that fires up her desire to go even further, with all means possible, good or bad. You know we shouldn’t be rooting for her to plot, scheme, lie and cheat her way up. But what’s interesting is that we’re intrigued and we want to see her do all of that. We can bring out morale and ethics, but to Miri, she doesn’t even care. She just wants out, and UP.
Another thing which amuses me is that Miri doesn’t learn from her mistakes. She’s stubborn and ignorant. She’s over-confident and thinks she can fool everyone. When she’s right, yay, she’s all in giggles that her plans are working smoothly. When she’s in the wrong, she manipulates her way to make her look as if she’s the pitiful one, the one in the right. The one scene in Ep 3 that left a deep impression, when she was totally pawned by Myung Hoon for her incompetence as a PR in the hotel. She was all fiery and angry that he had placed her on temporary status but MH totally won her over by telling her how incompetent she was. I was like, there you go girl, you don’t win every single time. Yeah.
Miri’s journey towards success, if that’s what she calls it, is destructive and corrupt with depravity. She’s just so damaged by her desire to get out that without her even realizing it, she’s sinking deeper into the wrath of greed and ambition. From her initially just wanting to secure a job in Korea, to now, her wanting to be at the top (without any credentials)? Sick. But wickedly amusing. It’s probably sickening to many (and I read, a turn off to many viewers) that she would eventually gain so much love from 2 men – Yutaka and Myung Hoon. Cos really, apart from her looks, what do they actually see in her? I’m sure Micky fans are still scratching their heads. lol
IMO, Ripley’s writing is nowhere near stellar or wonderful. The entire premise is intriguing but so far the writing still lacks coherency and flow. Too many coincidences coupled with some ridiculous plot twists here and there make for an interesting banjun drama but in a way render the whole drama more contrived and convoluted. Directing is passable, editing is crappy (so many scenes abruptly cropped off here and there), music is just downright horrible (the MD really needs to get a new job!) But strangely and surprisingly, having bowed out from Lie To Me for the exact same reasons, I find myself wanting MORE of Ripley. It’s so damn addicting.
The triangle oh the triangle. I am for one, a ship of both couplings. So far, I’m not settled yet, most probably because I’m still firmly with Miri on her choices. I think LDH has this quiet burning chemistry with Kim Seung Woo, and an increasingly cute rapport with Micky. It gives for more interesting discussion and analysis because both MH and Yutaka are both of equal and outstanding caliber, are capable and smart in their respective fields. And yet they’re falling mad for a woman who has nothing but lies and façade shrouded around her. All 3 of them are already so interconnected in all sorts of ways and you can’t help but want to see how their dynamics will pan out. How they’ll face each other when the truth comes out? Will Miri use MH all the way right until she achieves her goal? If yes, where will she stop? Where is the end for her? Will Miri pursue Yutaka upon finding out of his real chaebol status and at the same time take MH for a ride behind her back? Gah, just predicting all of that makes me brain into a mush. But I’m sure if Ripley had nothing else to hang on to, it’s the triangle which will keep us going. Myung-Ri? YuRi?
Last but not least, Miri’s redemption or self-destruction. Part of me yearns for her to find happiness that she has never had since young, yet another part of me wants her to just go all out and pay for misdeeds, for what she’s done. So far she hasn’t done anything THAT malicious or evil, but from the pace and progress so far, it’s highly likely she will take that path soon. Will she find a way out and just leave in the end? Will MH and Yutaka forgive her and take her for what and who she is and has been? Will Miri accept her fate and just move on? Worst come to worst, will she die?
All in all, everything is about Miri. Her life. Her ending.
From the opening of Ep 1,we know MH and Yutaka will be fine. They reminisce about Miri, think about Miri and miss her.
But what about Miri?
Where will she be by then?