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: Zoo (2015)

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WELL JUST TAKE MY HEART AND GALLOP AWAY WITH IT, WHY DON’T YOU?

Guys. Guys. There are those shows that you start out loving cos the plot’s insane, and then they just go and throw in the most amazing characters and give you a couple that’s just going to tear your heart apart – and that’s this one. This is only a review of season one, am on season two, there are three total. 🙂

So Zoo beings with zoologist Jackson Oz (played by James Wolk) and his best friend Abraham Kenyatta (played by Nonso Anozie) wondering what is happening to the lions in Kenya. They normally protect the animals from poachers (and there’s a hilarious scene where Jackson saves a rhino with a boombox) but all of a sudden, the lions start to act abnormally. They meet Chloe Tousignant (played by Nora Arnezeder), the only survivor of a lion attack on a village. Chloe, a French intelligence agent, is in Kenya on what would have been her honeymoon, only she found out her fiancé was cheating on her, so she cancelled her wedding and came alone.

In the US, Jamie Campbell (played by Kristen Connolly), a journalist, is investigating a corporation, Reiden Global, that is responsible for poisoning her home town and has left dirty footprints all over the world. She’s convinced they’ve been behind aberrant animal behaviour and wants to nail them for it. She gets fired because the corporation has ties to her newspaper. Jamie tracks down Mitch Morgan (played by Billy Burke), a veterinary pathologist. The pair begin investigating Reiden Global and learn more about connections between the products Reiden Global makes and the increasingly violent attacks happening in the animal kingdom: dogs turning against people, bears breaking into houses, bats swarming a solar panel so scientists freeze. It gets really gruesome.

Jamie and Mitch’s search leads them to Jackson, Abraham and Chloe, and the five of them are recruited to investigate the animal attacks. But, of course, nothing is as it seems and the truth about what’s happening to the animals is more complicated than any of them could have imagined.

Jackson’s father, we slowly learn, had predicated what was going to happen to the animals before he died. The group unravel the mystery together, while fighting back against members of Reiden Global who want to silence them for good.

I find everything about this series interesting, especially the idea of animals evolving to outsmart people. It’s not quite Planet of the Apes, level. The animals aren’t talking. But they’re evolving, and the explanations are interesting, although I’m not sure how much is hard science and how much is just an interesting idea. Eh, I don’t care. I loved Jurassic Park 😉

The central cast are wonderful together, although I’m guaranteed to enjoy pretty much anything with Billy Burke. Like Timothy Olyphant, I just adore him as an actor and give anything he’s in a chance. Nonso Anozie is also brilliant.

I love the characters of Mitch and Jamie probably the most, but Abe, Jackson and Chloe aren’t far behind. Mitch/Jamie have such amazing chemistry and one of my favourite scenes happens at the start of season two. MY HEART. THEY ARE SO PERFECT. He’s a grumpy veterinarian who makes it clear that he chose the job because he doesn’t like people, while Jamie is outgoing and vivacious and determined. They’re total opposites and work so well together and I just hope they end up together! MY OTP! (/◕ヮ◕)/

I totally recommend this show and I can’t wait to see how it ends!

Mitch, everyone:

 

 

**gifs found online, and here and here, not mine

Show Review: Zone Blanche (2017)

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Zone Blanche, or Black Spot, is a dark and twisty show. (I’m still not clear as to how a show with the name ‘White Zone’ gets an English title of Black Spot, but I digress …) It follows the residents of a small French town, Villefranche, which is surrounded by miles and miles of forest. It has a murder rate six times the national average and very little technology. (Even microwaves are known to fritz out.)

Prior to the events of the show, the mayor’s daughter went missing. No one knows anything, but everyone’s holding out hope that she’s just run away. When Prosecutor Franck Siriani arrives in the town, he begins poking around in everyone’s business. He immediately butts heads with Laurène Weiss, the head of the local police with a dark past. And when I say dark, I mean dark. There’s a tradition in the town that every teenager spends a night in the forest alone and let’s just say we see it end poorly in more than one episode.

While Laurène and her partner Martial Ferrandis (Nounours, or ‘Teddybear’) try and solve the numerous murders and mysteries of the town, her daughter Cora delves deeper and deeper into a radical group determined to mess with the town’s mayor. The mayor and Laurène have a complicated history that resurfaces as she tries to find his daughter; meanwhile, Nounours is one of the few out of the closet gay men in the village and in addition to dealing with backlash from some of the less-than-open-minded locals, struggles with his burgeoning relationship with a closeted man.

There’s some seriously twisted sides of the town that are slowly revealed as the episodes unfold. Often the characters talk about the forest like it’s speaking to them, and you’re left wondering if it’s a metaphor or if the forest is, in fact, sending them messages. I feel like the forest becomes its own character in the show.

One of the first things I loved about the show is the imagery. It’s so, so atmospheric and beautiful. If you like foggy small town mysteries, this one is for you. It fits right in with Øyevitne and La Forêt, which I just started. Kind of reminds me of, like, a less creepy genre of The Ring. It’s not nearly as horrific, but the atmosphere and creeping quietness are similar. It’s a genre I really, really like.

I definitely recommend this to fans of crime dramas and small town mysteries!

 

**gifs found online, not mine

My Introduction to Korean Dramas (한국드라마)

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I don’t know why it took me so long to get into Korean dramas, but I am now deeply enamoured with the genre and have been watching them non-stop throughout the lockdown. Not only is it helping me learn Korean, but they’re just so much fun! The romance is always top notch, the acting is superb, and as a lady who needs bad-ass action scenes in everything, these shows more than provide.

I’ve written up long reviews of Crash Landing on You, Suspicious Partner and When the Camellia Blooms, but all of these deserve their own posts, honestly. And I’m going to try and write up some longer reviews for them when I can.

I’m now almost done with Oh My Venus and My Secret Terrius, which I’m loving. Both have So Ji-sub and he’s definitely one of my new favourite actors. No one enters an action scene like him! (Except maybe Ji Chang-wook, haha.) The action scenes in these shows are just so satisfying to watch.

*All of these are available on (Irish) Netflix, but I think they’re pretty widely available in most countries.*

The K2 (더 케이투) – [action, politics, romance] This one follows a framed soldier-turned-mercenary-turned-bodyguard as he protects a wealthy family with nefarious intentions. The romance and political intrigue in this was great, but the action scenes were by far the best. SUCH GOOD ACTION SCENES.

Suspicious Partner (수상한 파트너) – [romance, comedy, drama, mystery] My review. If you like adorable courtroom dramas with a touch of action, this one’s for you.

Because This is My First Life (이번 생은 처음이라) – [romance, drama] My (short) review. This show is actually one of my top favs despite the short review. It’s really, really good and the relationships are wonderful.

Doctors (닥터스) – [romance, medical drama] This one follows a troubled student who becomes a doctor and the mentor who becomes her co-worker years later. I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m really enjoying the main character. She’s such a legend (and throws quite the punch)!

Descendants of the Sun (태양의 후예) – [romance, military drama, action] Two Special Forces soldiers are sent to Uruk and are joined by a group of doctors. The angst in this one is wonderful, the friendships are so great, and the awesome brotps are fierce.

My Secret Terrius (내 뒤에 테리우스) – [romance, action, comedy, drama] I am loving this one. When a young mother to twins is left widowed, her strange neighbour offers to be her babysitter as he tries to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her husband’s death. This one is just pure fluff at times and I am HERE. FOR. IT.

Oh My Venus (오 마이 비너스) – [romance, drama] After passing out on a plane from a toxic combination of diet pills and an untreated thyroid condition, a lawyer joins a trio of fitness enthusiasts who help her get healthy and fit.

Crash Landing on You (사랑의 불시착) – [romance, politics, drama] My review. My first ever Korean drama and still one of my top favs. Just start this one right now!

When the Camellia Blooms (동백꽃 필 무렵) – [romance, mystery, drama] My review. A cosy, smalltown mystery show with the cutest of characters.

Vagabond (배가본드) – [action, politics, touch o’ romance]  This one is super intense. The chase scenes are some of the best ever. The story follows Cha Dal-gun, a former stuntman as he tracks down those responsible for the death of his nephew.

Something in the Rain (밥 잘 사주는 예쁜 누나) – [romance, drama] This is a quiet, lovely show that follows the romance between a woman in her thirties and a man in his twenties, and the judgements they get from their friends and family. I started this one for Son Ye-jin, but Jung Hae-in totally stole the show.

***

If anyone has any Korean drama recommendations, definitely link me! For once I have the time to watch new television, so I may as well watch them all 😉

Mini Review Roundup [30/04]

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Show Rec: Because This Is My First Life:  I totally recommend this! The main guy’s such an interesting character and the main lady is so wonderful. Let me just say, the otps otp hard. I was a very happy fangirl by the end, haha. And all three couples are just the CUTEST. Without question, the romance in this one is top notch. GO WATCH.

Audiobook Rec: The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl: Okay, this is super cute and I love Kate Winslet’s voice, so I definitely recommend the audiobook version of this. It’s super short, under half an hour, and totally worth it. A must read for kids, definitely, and for burgeoning vegetarians and those who hate hunting. Go Dahl!

Book Rec: Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah:  This was a truly strange, deeply melancholy novella. It’s very stream of consciousness style and the main character drifts from day to day, experiencing grim events at every turn. The writing was very good, though.

Book Rec: The Gown of Harmonies by Francesca Forrest: This was such a cool idea! A gown that makes music. LOVE IT.

Currently Reading

Currently Watching

 

What’s everyone else watching/reading in lockdown? Hope you’re all well! (✿◠‿◠)

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