Show Review: Poldark (2015)

I’ve liked Poldark since it first aired and today started a rewatch. For anyone who hasn’t jumped on the Poldark bandwagon, may I kindly suggest you give it a go? It’s worth it! Pretty dresses and suits, lovely English scenery, and a continuous, ongoing social commentary.

The series (based upon a book series published between 1945-2002!) follows Ross Poldark, an officer in the British Army who returns home after three years in the Americas. Unfortunately, the woman he’d left behind, Elizabeth, is now about to marry his cousin Francis. Francis is instantly jealous of the history between Ross and Elizabeth, but Elizabeth insists she won’t change her mind. Heartbroken, Ross returns to his childhood home only to find that it’s in tatters, there’s no money left, the mine isn’t producing copper, and his father has passed while he was at war.

When he stumbles upon a young woman trying to defend her dog from a group of men who stole him for a dog fight, Ross saves Garrick, the dog, buys her dinner and learns that her name is Demelza and she’s being badly abused by her father and brothers. He offers her a job as his kitchenmaid and takes her and Garrick home. Ross and Demelza slowly bond, aided by his cousin Verity, who is constantly at Ross’ side to support him. (Verity is seriously such a gem!) At the Poldark house is also Judd and Prudie, two workers who used to work for Ross’ father and now work for him. They’re always drunk and rude, but they add great comic relief and warm up to Demelza over time. They are also loyal to Ross, despite their bickering.

The main complication and source of drama is the lack of money for Ross and those around him. He’s unlike the other lords who look down upon the poor and instead situates himself amongst his tenants, hiring on friends and strangers even when he has no money to give, simply because it’s the kind thing to do. It wins him allies amongst those who work for him and unlike the other mine workers and mine owners, Ross and his workers have a deep sense of loyalty to each other. The so-called elites, who want Ross to act just like them, hate him for not looking down on those they believe are worth less. (Seriously, the best scenes are Ross screaming his head off about inequality and how messed up the whole system is.)

A lot of the characters change throughout the series, but Demelza, Dr Enys, Verity and Morwenna are probably my standout favourites. Ross is an amazing character, but he can sometimes be immensely frustrating (especially where it concerns Elizabeth and Demelza). Elizabeth is a very well done character, as is Francis, though I found them both immensely frustrating from time to time. There’s also Dr Enys, Ross’ dear friend, who is lovely and doesn’t believe anyone should be a doctor for the money, but to help, something the other lords are quick to scoff at. The worst character George Warleggan, who is one of the mine owners, loves belittling others and waving his money around, and makes it his mission in life to ruin Ross.

This is definitely a series for anyone who loves costume dramas, but it’s also a good starter for newbies to the genre. The social commentary is great, the action scenes are gripping and intense, and the character development is on point. And, needless to say, the romance is perfection!

Show Review: Plan Cœur [2018]

In the mood for a really well acted comedy? Plan Cœur (also known as The Hook Up Plan in English) is definitely a great one!

[This review contains some spoilers] The series follows Elsa (played by Zita Hanrot), who’s still getting over a breakup. She’s not handling it well at all, especially because her relationship ended two years before. Her ex, Maxime (played by Guillaume Labbé), cheated on her and is still with the woman he left Elsa for. To perk her up and help her get over a 25-month dry spell, Charlotte (played by Sabrina Ouazani), one of her best friends, hires a high end prostitute (played by Marc Ruchmann) to woo her. She shares the secret with Emilie (played by Joséphine Draï), their other best friend, who wants to immediately tell Elsa the truth. The problem is, every time they try, the subject changes, someone arrives, or Elsa’s just too happy with Jules, the man in question, who’s also starting to fall for her. Their adorableness is off the charts, for sure!

When Emilie and Charlotte push Jules to ‘dump’ Elsa, he instead keeps seeing her, no longer getting paid to do so. At the same time, the other two women are dealing with issues of their own. Charlotte is the sister of Emilie’s boyfriend Antoine (played by Syrus Shahidi) and living upstairs in their apartment with Matthieu (played by Tom Dingler), Antoine and Maxime’s recently unemployed best friend. Antoine and Matthieu are also Maxime’s continuous voice of reason and the three play off each other well. But as Else moves on with her life, happy with Jules, Maxime gets more and more jealous, something his new girlfriend picks up on. Of course, the secrets can only last so long …

Jules is my favourite character on the show by far, although I do like Elsa, Matthieu and Antoine. Emilie and Charlotte are funny, but stringing their friend along on a lie ain’t cute. It’s Matthieu and Antoine that really push for honesty, so points for them. There’s a lot of deception in the show, actually, and it goes on into the second season and it gets a little frustrating. One of the reasons I like Jules the most is because he owns up to everything and really tries to win Elsa over, which is super endearing. And his friendship/brotherhood with Roman (played by Yvan Naubron), and his love for his mum are really lovely.

Overall it’s a cute show with some great laugh-out-loud moments and an endearing central cast. I’m excited to see how season two ends!

Show Review: Le Bazar de la Charité [2019]

STOP WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING AND WATCH THIS ONE. Le Bazar de la Charité is the best thing I have seen in a while. (I say that a lot, but somehow it always happens to be true??) But seriously, guys, this one is amazing. Now, that said, it is really hard to watch in parts, so go into it prepared, but it’s seriously worth it. It’s a historical costume drama set at the end of the nineteenth century, but this is definitely a show for everyone. It’s on Netflix as Bonfire of Destiny in most places, I think.

The miniseries follows the lives of three women affected by the (historical event) fire at the Bazar de la Charité in 1897. It was a horrible accident that killed over 120 people. It’s so heartbreaking. I read a bit of the case after watching episode one and learned that it was one of the first instances where dental records were used in forensics. I had no idea. My heart just breaks for all the victims.

The characters in the show are Adrienne de Lenverpré (played by Audrey Fleurot), Rose Rivière (played by Julie de Bona), Alice de Jeansin (played by Camille Lou), Victor Minville (played by Victor Meutelet), Jean Rivière (played by Aurélien Wiik) and Marc-Antoine de Lenverpré (played by Gilbert Melki). So basically, three women and the men in their lives. There’s a good number of background characters as well, and it’s wonderful how much character development they all get. But, back to the main ladies, Adrienne is trying to leave her husband Marc-Antoine, because he’s an absolute psycho; Alice is planning to marry Julien, a really, really rich man; and Rose, who’s Alice’s best friend, is married to the wonderful, lovely, fabulous Jean, and they’re planning on moving to New York. Now, here cometh the spoilers, ye have been warned.

The day of the fire, Adrienne was planning on leaving Marc-Antoine and running away with her daughter. She’s been sleeping with Hugues Chaville in secret and hates her husband (which is good, because he’s the worst). Marc-Antoine figures it out, unfortunately, and sends Adrienne’s daughter off to boarding school and then tells Adrienne that if she doesn’t stop the divorce proceedings, she’ll never see her daughter again. (Like I said, the worst.) He then sends Adrienne off to the bazaar and tells her to act normally. Instead, she gets into a carriage with Hugues and disappears. (I cheered.)

At the same time, Alice is trying to figure out how to tell Rose that she and Jean are heading off to New York. Jean leaves her at the bazaar so that she can talk to Rose about it. He then leaves. Inside, Alice and Rose bump into Victor. Well, for Rose it’s literal. Victor picks her pocket easily, but then hands the bracelet back, calling her ‘your highness’ and clearly flirting with her. Rose calls him a cad. THEIR CHEMISTRY, GUYS.

The fire starts soon after the bazaar opens and soon it’s engulfed the whole warehouse, which has only one exit with a rotating door. I’m warning you now, guys, this scene is horrible. Heartbreakingly, devastatingly horrible. A lot of people die in the fire and the scene is hard to watch.

In the chaos, Julien leaves Alice behind and pushes Rose into the flames. He gets out. Alice witness the whole thing. Victor, who had been outside, decides to be an absolute hero and begins bashing in through the wall of the warehouse, trying to make a hole to get the rest of them out. He manages it. VICTOR IS A WALL SMASHING PRINCE AND MY PERSONAL HERO, OKAY? He gets the firefighters into the warehouse and manages to save Alice. He then doubles back to save more. GUYS.

Outside, Adrienne returns to the warehouse with Hugues and decides to use the moment to fake her death and escape from her abusive husband.

After the fire, Hugues takes her in and she pushes him to help her get her daughter back. Alice, meanwhile, refuses to forgive her fiancé for leaving her to die and, you know, shoving her best friend into the fire (I HATE HIM SO MUCH). She tells her father what happened, but instead of being a good person about it, he tells Alice she has to marry Julien because they’re going to be broke and Julien is rich. (Lovely. /s) Alice isn’t remotely amused and starts meeting up with Victor in secret. And Rose, the poor thing, wakes up in hospital badly burned. When it was revealed that she lived, I straight up started crying. Rose begs a women to get her husband, but instead, the woman takes her home and pretends she’s Odette, the women’s daughter. (Don’t get me started.) The woman, Madame Huchon (played by Josiane Balasko), forces Rose to stay and threatens to lock her up if she tells anyone with the truth. Huchon wants Rose to pretend to be Odette and raise Tomas, Odette’s son. (Messed up doesn’t cover it.)

What follows are probably some of the most anxiety-inducing episodes I have seen on television in a while. It’s only eight episodes long and I binged it. It also has a really, really satisfying ending. (I promise!) The characters are so wonderfully done and all the women are just amazing and the romances are on point! Victor and Alice’s chemistry is off the CHARTS; Adrienne and Hugues work together so well trying to save Camille, the daughter; and Jean and Rose are just so precious. There’s also a great mystery to the whole thing that involves a lot of the background characters and just adds an extra layer of intensity to it all. Célestin Hennion (played by Stéphane Guillon), who’s helping Victor and starts investigating Adrienne’s death, is another wonderful character.

I 100% recommend this to everyone! But most especially if you love romance, history and drama all tangled together with a dash of politics and mystery. Oh, and of course, forbidden love!

Show Review: When the Camellia Blooms (2019)

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Can a person be a miracle for another?

If you’re in the mood for one of the cutest, most feel-good romances ever, allow me to direct you to When the Camellia Blooms (on Netflix!). The story follows Oh Dong-baek (played by Gong Hyo-jin) and Hwang Yong-sik (played by Kang Ha-neul) in the small town of Ongsan that has a slight problem in the form of the ‘Joker’, a killer who leaves behind messages on his victims that reads: Don’t be a joke. (Okay, so when you summarise it like that it doesn’t sound like a cutesy show, but the love story really, really is. And the mystery takes a back seat to the lurrrrrrrrve, so perhaps class it as a cosy mystery-romance show?)

Dong-baek is a single mother and moves to Ongsan to raise her son Pil-gu and run her bar, which she names Camellia. She’s not the most popular person in town, often called ‘unlucky’ by the other townsfolk, and she doesn’t have many friends apart from Hyang-mi, a mysterious waitress that she hires who also doesn’t have a support system. They get along well and the business does okay, largely kept afloat by all the men in town who like drinking and think Dong-baek is pretty.

Yong-sik is a life-long do-gooder who becomes a police officer. He gets demoted after slapping a man on television after the man proudly confesses to beating and killing his wife. Yong-sik has no patience for bad people! He’s a brash, energetic, optimistic, innately kind man and this spills into every aspect of his life. He’s basically a PRECIOUS CINNAMON ROLL and it’s SO ENDEARING. When he meets Dong-baek, he instantly falls in love and is entirely open and unapologetic about it.

Unfortunately, Dong-baek is traumatised from being left on the side of the road by her mother as a child and has severe trust issues. She’s basically a push over with no sense of self, no confidence, no ability to yell at the people who are rude to her. Watching her grow as a character throughout the show is really rewarding and, above all else, believable. It does take time, but she really does shine on her own by the end of the show. I liked how her characterisation happened. It felt natural. People don’t change over night, after all, and a person that’s been scorned and abandoned all their life isn’t just going to miraculously believe they’re loveable. So watching Yong-sik pour his heart and soul into her every episode is just lovely to watch. THEY ARE PERFECT OTP MATERIAL I SWEAR. HEART EYES.

I don’t think there’s a single character I can think of who tries as hard as Yong-sik to make Dong-baek believe he loves her and isn’t going to leave her. And he’s never bitter about it. He recognises every attempt of hers to cut herself off from happiness and is always understanding and offers her a second chance, telling her he loves her regardless. Slowly but surely, Dong-baek grows in confidence and begins standing her ground with the people in her life and eventually realises that she deserves to love and be loved. It’s such a great character arc, honestly.

The background mystery is really intriguing, with little snippets coming into every episode between the normal day-to-day lives of the characters, and ramps up the drama throughout the course of the series. You definitely won’t see the reveal coming!

There’s also the storyline that revolves around Kang Jong-ryul, Dong-baek’s famous, very rich ex. He lives a lavish lifestyle with a social media influencer wife Park Sang-mi/’Jessica’. But while they appear happy to the public, the reality is much, much different. They aren’t even friends and Jong-ryul is left taking care of his daughter by himself often. Jessica doesn’t seem to like Jong-ryul at all and they spend most of their time sniping at each other. When he learns that he has a son he’s never met or even knew existed, he begins popping up in Ongsan to try and establish a bond with Pil-gu. I actually ended up feeling really bad for Jong-ryul. He wasn’t a good boyfriend to Dong-baek by any means, but he seems like a very unhappy guy who badly wants to be a good father and just keeps messing up. There’s a lot of moments where he was just the most frustrating person ever, but I ended up rooting for him to get a happy ending, too.

Overall, if you’re looking for a romance to watch with a sprinkle of drama and mystery, definitely check out this one! You won’t regret it and the ending is very satisfying.

 

**gifs found online, not mine