Now, on to the baddest bitch I think I’ve ever actually seen on television. Choi Myeong-gil’s Lee Hwa has got to be the female character of the year. Her personality was chilling, completely ruthless and unwaveringly confident. Her majesty masked only by her cruelty. The story line revolving around her relationship with Jang Mi-Ri is jaw-dropping, providing the most interesting subplot in the series and almost outshining the main story.
As much as I want to rave on and on about Myeong-Gil-ssi’s performance, I can’t find the words to correctly encapsulate the depth of her power. She’s in a class of her own, commanding the screen and seemingly connecting the, at times, rampantly unstable emotions of the surrounding characters. She was able to change the color of the show with just a twitch in her smile.
The two most pitiful characters, the heartbroken Jang Myung-Hoon and the hapless Na Hee-Joo, were also the series’ most emotional. Kim Seung-Woo played Myung-Hoon with all the care and softness one would expect to find in the heart ache of a jilted lover. His ability to harbor great pain and responsibility made his character the most noble of the entire cast. While Kang Hye-Jung’s Hee-Joo was a lesson in loyalty and forgiveness and Hye-Jung’s portrayal was commendable, I was underwhelmed and, at times, frustrated with Hee-Joo’s lack of conviction one way or the other.
The charisma and fire of Kim Jung-Tae perfectly matched his character, the deliciously slimy Hirayama — Mi-Ri’s obsessed former employer and lover. Jung-Tae had masterful control over the character, who had all the vitriol of a lover scorned. However, after a while, his character became incredibly static. Even with moments of surprising tenderness interspersed between his explosive soliloquies about love and honor, Hirayama struck me as nothing more than a brooding character subjected to random histrionics.
Miss Ripley really owed much of its success to the actors’ abilities. As such, the most impressive aspect of the drama was how each actor was able to delve deeply into the relationships their characters had with one another. Yes, there were moments of unnecessarily dramatic poignancy — as in Myung-Hoon-shi’s fall out with his ex-wife. However, the more subtle moments gave depth and maturity to a script that was otherwise rather bland and, at times, overwritten.