Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First Impressions:// My Secret Hotel

Poster for My Secret Hotel 마이 시크릿 호텔
tvN's rom/com mystery is light and charming, with the possiblity of being clever, depending on how the mystery aspect is handled. The first four episodes were written by Kim Ye Ri, who also penned Lie To Me, which started out strong and ended up crashing about midway. Sadly, she lost her battle with cancer in March. Script duty has been taken up by Kim Do Hyun of Goodbye Dear Wife. Director Hong Jong Chan also worked on Tamra, the Island, which I enjoyed, so I have hope that My Secret Hotel will deliver on its promises.

Jin Yi Han 진이한 as Goo Hae Young and Yoo In Na 유인나 as Nam Sang Hyo look at each other in shock for the first time in seven years.
Our divorced couple are shocked to see each other after seven years. Goo Hae Young (Jin Yi Han) happens to be getting married again at the hotel Nam Sang Hyo (Yoo In Na) works at, and she has to plan the wedding. It's obvious that their parting was due to a misunderstanding, and it's also obvious that they aren't going to clear the air anytime soon. Instead, more misunderstandings are added to the mix, and you have to wonder if it's because they really aren't meant to be.

Goo Hae Young leans back on a couch in a dramatic pose / Soft closeup of Hae Young's face
After his sexily stoic role as Tal Tal in Empress Ki, and his disappointingly limited stint in A New Leaf, a comical, tempermental, emotional leading man role is just the right fit for Jin Yi Han. It's gratifying to see him wear his heart on his sleeve, gesture and yell, and let frustration get the better of him.

Nam Sang Hyo painfully watches Hae Young / Sang Hyo cringes
Yoo In Na gives an acceptable performance, but she's not a complex actress. She can do one emotion or another, but isn't genuine as she makes transitions. It seems that she's more of an intellectual performer, following directions, but not feeling the emotions.

Sang Hyo struggles to hold back her fist that wants to punch Hae Young
Our main couple does have chemistry, which is built up through comedic scenes of animosity driven by heartache. Sang Hyo seems to have an uncontrollable arm that punches of its own accord, and it's quite amusing to watch her keep it in check - or not. You can feel their history, confusion and pain, which allows for sympathy for both sides.

Nam Goong Min 남궁민 as Jo Sung Gyum listens to Sang Hyo's worries
Jo Sung Gyum (Nam Goong Min) is the hotel's director and our Second Leading Man. He's amused and sympathetic towards Sang Hyo, though as of the first two episodes, he isn't full swing into SLM mode yet. He's poised and charming, and would be a calm and grounding haven for Sang Hyo's brand of neediness.

Kim Bo Mi 보미 as Heo Young Mi, Ha Yun Joo 하연주 as Jung Soo Ah and Uhm Soo Jung 엄수정 as Yang Kyung Hee
I'm excited to see Kim Bo Mi get her evil on as one of Sang Hyo's staff members. I'm not sure if she's a real villainess or just the sour girl in the office, but it's nice to see her step out of her sweet and innocent supporting role. I'm rooting for her to be a leading lady one day, and this will hopefully get her one step closer.
Jung Soo Ah (Ha Yun Joo) is Hae Young's ditzy fiancee, though I suspect she could have a shrewd side to her. One has to wonder why Hae Young would agree to marry her in the first place as she is perfectly annoying, but I suppose there were circumstances that we will hopefully be made privy to.
Then there is Yang Kyung Hee (Uhm Soo Jung) who seems like the perfect assistant, but she's got something going on in her personal life, and possibly an edgier side to her personality.

Hotel workers speculate as they see Lee Young Eun 이영은 as Yeo Eun Joo in the lobby with Sung Gyum who is holding a drunken Sang Hyo
Sang Hyo shares a rivalry with colleague, Yeo Eun Joo (Lee Young Eun), especially for Sung Gyum's affections. Hopefully this has a chance to escalate because the comic dynamic between them is really entertaining.

Kim Byung Choon 김병춘 as Hwang Dong Bae and Choi Jung 최정우 as Lee Moo Yang confer in a dark room
The mystery at the hotel is tied to the death of Sung Gyum's father. The only two people who are still around from that time are manager Lee Moo Yang (Choi Jung Woo) and the delinquent worker, Hwang Dong Bae (Kim Byung Choon). They seem shady, but that could be misleading. I'm looking foward to seeing history revealed and how everyone is tied together.

Hae Young stands in front of a bloodied corpse as guests flee the wedding hall
And then of course, there's the corpse which really sets things into motion at the end of episode two. There's real potential for wacky humor, a smart plot, and poignant romance. The cast is certainly up for it, I hope the writer is too.

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