Uncertainty is a keyword for me right now. After being all hyped up by all the promotions and media coverage, let’s just say that my expectations were elevated a little more than usual. Add in one actor that I adore, Kim Woo Bin, you know I was gunning for it. However, after watching the first two episodes, I feel a little detached to story, but not enough to drop it right then and there. Uncontrollably Fond is uncontrollably makjang from the start, which is to be expected as it is a drama penned by Lee Kyung-Hee (Nice Guy, A Love to Kill, etc.). Kim Woo Bin plays Joon Young, illegitimate son of a famous (but dirty as in bribe-taking) prosecutor. The drama starts off in the future, where Joon Young is a famous actor. However, it seems like he has an incurable disease with only 1 year to live. He is slowly becoming depressed and retreating into a shell. On the flip side is Noh Eul, broke and an opportunist. She was previously a documentarist who chased after illegal doings of big companies. However, instead of exposing these horrendous acts, she ends up taking bribes to keep her mouth shut. She has to pay off loan sharks, rent, and her little brother’s education. Unfortunately, she is shortly fired from this job. These two are brought together when Noh Eul sets out with the task of persuading Joon Young to participate in a documentary. She needs a job and money while he is trying to search for her (assuming that they were separated in the past). Of course, their reunion is indifferent at first as both pretend not to know each other. Then emotions explode into angst.
With a time skip to the past, we learn that Joon Young does badly in school and gets into fights often. His mother, who didn’t tell the father about her pregnancy, only wishes that Joon Young would grow up to be like his father. After getting into trouble with the police, he learns of his birth parents which makes him decide to grow up and start studying in an effort to make his mother (and future father) proud. Meanwhile, Noh Eul, is a kind hearted daughter of a food stall seller. She had liked Joon Young in the past, but decided to give up on the chase because she believed he was out of her league and unavailable. She also knows that Joon Young treats his suitors badly. They are brought head to head as she tries to get him to make her friend feel better who he had rejected. As all this is happening, her father manages to get into an accident. A rich girl had run him over and he was put on life support. In an effort to find the culprit, she hounds the prosecutor who changed the info around so that the girl would not get prosecuted. This prosecutor happens to be Joon Young’s dad. She even insults him about his intelligence in front of his future father, unknowingly. As revenge, he pretends to woo her in front of the school saying that it was their 100th day of dating. This made her seem like a girl who stole her best friend’s crush. Unfortunately, her father ends up dying and she is chased away from their home by the loan sharks. Joon Young, strangely starts to care about this girl and continues to try and find out what is really going on. It is there, that we jump back to the present where Joon Young forces an acknowledgement of their past relationship. Noh Eul haves none of it, walks off, and promptly faints.
If you add the makjang tropes in dramaland, you will have Uncontrollably fond. Incurable disease with a limit of 1 year to live, childhood sweethearts, birth secrets, untimely deaths, dirty people in power, and forbidden love, we’ve got it all, in just 2 episodes! To me, the drama felt a little disconnected. One situation did not flow into another well, especially their past scenes. The romance felt forced, and I mean the situation, not the acting. Furthermore, the scenes in the past were frankly strange to me. Why would you run after the villain’s car for that long, without first checking upon your father who is dying on the road? Why is there not more emotion at her father’s bedside? I’ve just insulted you greatly in front your father who you were trying to impress, but please seduce me, or I will seduce you? It’s just not making sense!! I really feel bad for Suzy’s past scenes as it was flimsy and awkward to be honest. The writer seemed to focus so much on Woo Bin’s character. His past and characterizations are more fleshed out. There is more purpose to his actions and reactions. I actually like the future scenes better. It kind of disappoints me since I loved her previous Nice Guy work.
So enough about the jaded plot, I find the acting to be decent. While I know there are many people who like Suzy and then there are many people who don’t like her. I have no extreme emotion about her, and I find her acting tolerable in the drama. She is trying to pull of a happy, but really angsty inside character, which is not bad. I enjoy that she is not your average Candy, and that she is realistic. She is broke and needs money. She does what is necessary to pay her debts. While her high school scenes were so-so, I am really looking forward to her adult scenes. They have the potential to be nuanced! As for Woo Bin, he is still acting as great as he has in the past. He plays internal conflict and broody scenes quite well. Reminding us of his shaky teary eyes from School 2013 and Heirs. His character is somewhat similar to ones he has done in the past, where he is a troublemaker who decides to man up. I am interested how he will play a dying man who is trying to live life best he can.
So I think I will give their another 2-3 episodes?
PS: He is going to have some friendly competition with his RL BFF Lee Jong Suk’s W.
Plus I guess this is why I am always hesitant to watch hyped up dramas in fear of being underwhelmed.