I was hoping to get bored after watching the first episode of Madam Antoine, but by the second episode I was totally bought and I watched episode 3 and 4 in one sitting. Psychological logic aside, I have to say this is one of the best dramas this year, with a nicely written plot, over reaching sub characters, two winning leads and a rich an un-cliche like happy hour. I’m so glad I watched it, if not I would’ve totally missed out a great drama.
The story is seemingly simple: phony fortuneteller and psychological professor falls in love. Here’s the catch, the fortuneteller is bubbly, sweet, hilarious and friendly and the professor is a total ass who doesn’t believe in true love. He experiments on a young girl employing three candidates to make her fall in “love” and test her psych, one is a rich man who would shower her with comfort, the second is a muscled handsome poor man, the third is a “gominam” a.k.a flower boy who is younger than her. For one thing I was glad the girl hit him in his moneymaker so he bled because hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. It was also kinda funny to see the cold professor stuck up a tissue up his nose to stop the bleeding.
When CHOI SOO HYUN (Sung Joon) puts up his clinic on the first floor, above the Madam Antoine Café, run by small time phony fortuneteller, GO HYE RIM (Han Ye Seul), all hell awakens. Funny how two people with different jobs compete for the same clients. Even funnier when they have to tolerate each other because the chairman who has rented out the place doesn’t give into their shit, and if I’m not wrong I’m thinking the grinning old grandpa is a matchmaker in disguise. Hee. To take revenge on Hye Rim stealing his clients (he’s cold, she’s friendly, go figure) he takes her as his subject to the next project because his previous client didn’t give a happy result. He’s such an ass I wish I could hit him where it hurts too. He brings in his younger step brother and ex baseball player, CHOI SEUNG CHAN in asking him to contribute to his experiment as the handsome poor muscled man and he takes in his student, robotic
parrot genius WAN JI HO as the flower boy younger than her. And he places himself as the rich wealthy older man.
Right from the start we can see his plan go awry when Hye Rim doesn’t initially fall for his plan and starts suspecting it. Plus he keeps reminding his candidates not to fall for her for real, but he should use his own advice. Because as the time goes on, Hye Rim starts to get through to him through his high walls and they start to crumble slowly. Once or twice he smiles genuinely and you can see the good person hidden inside the assy professor. And he is a really sweet guy.
And Hye Rim is such a sweet lady. She married early, when she was 21, and had a lovely baby girl, DO KYUNG, with the man she loved, who didn’t love her back. He was too busy two-timing behind her. They divorced and Hye Rim demanded him not to come see her or her daughter and she sent Do Kyung to the States for studies. She earned money for her daughter through fortunetelling and was a good mother and sister to GO YOO RIM, who helps her out with the café business as well as the fortunetelling. She’s a budding journalist who has followed genius student Ji Ho, and I’m sure the two will have a love line in the future episodes with adorable and funny Yoo Rim teaching Ji Ho to be “human” as to win her sister.
Hye Rim is bubbly and had a perfect childhood, unlike our hero who grew with his stepmother whom he hated. Hr has a childhood trauma and that haunts him everytime a drop of ice cream falls to his hand. It’s disarming him and makes him seem human at least. Yet I’m sure, by episode four, Soo Hyun is quite human. He feels genuinely for Hye Rim. I really like his character because he’s just not cookie cut. He has issues, huge issues, and Hye Rim maybe the one who undoes his tight knots and makes him relax.
What shone more than the engaging aura that is, is the two patients who had come for consulting and just outshone all other issues. They were cold and bitchy and had their head up in the air. But seeing them overcome their trauma and move on happily did make me cry and laugh. I didn’t intend to like Lee Mari, the talented high jumper who claimed to get blind. Soo Hyun proved that she was blind only through her mind and to overcome that they had to know the root of cause. Just by studying Mari’s actions Hye Rim knew that she was bullied and that was the reason why she couldn’t go on smiling. An interview with a singer made the singer’s fans mad and they kept showing up at her meets to discourage her. She had blocked them with her mind and that had her block her entire eyesight. By leading the fans into Mari’s favorite song and thereby making her succeed, Hye Rim made Soo Hyun proud and Mari impressed. It was really touching to see Mari smile and cry, both at the same time. Plus it was the only time we saw her smile. That was really tear inducing.
But for me the guest scene stealer was Joon Hee a.k.a Juni who was a spoiled rotten brat and a world popular singer. She wanted everybody to love her and if there was a scene when she was scolded she would choke and faint. At first she was so bitchy that I often wondered why Hye Rim didn’t hit her more. She was a rude attention seeking poor excuse of a person and wondered why there were so many good looking people at the clinic. You’re not alone, girl. But she hate the fact that both two boys (with the exception of Soo Hyun who was monitoring her reactions) doted on their subject, as they have genuinely started to like Hye Rim. Juni fainted and was admitted to the hospital. Later she came messaged Hye Rim (as Soo Hyun) to ask her to “bring” some documents to the hospital car park. There the two girl go at it and I wanted to slap Junki when she slapped my girl. But Hye Rim wasn’t someone who would cave into bitches like Juni and she slapped her back. Score. Then Hye Rim started attacking back asking how could Juni call herself a person when she vacationed when her manager died. That does it and Juni screams, “I liked him!”. Oof. That is the moment I (maybe even both Hye Rim and Soo Hyun) started to see Juni in a new light. Juni wails that she liked the manager so much but since their levels were too different they couldn’t be together. And then that idiot died in a car accident. She couldn’t even confess her feelings to him. We see in a montage the car accident, where Juni screams at her dying manager and his hand reaches out to her. They hold hands for a mini second and he dies. That is the most heart breaking accident I have ever seen. And I have to say the actor (manager) is quite handsome, a cross between Song Joon Ki and Jang Hyuk. Anyway, the story softens Soo Hyun’s heart and Hye Rim cried with her. This actress is truly amazing. She was definitely a scene stealer. That crying scene and the flashback to the accident opened my floodgates too.
But for me, what sells the drama is the insane chemistry Sung Joon and Han Ye Seul has, which honestly I thought wouldn’t happen. I dunno why they held out this pairing because for this year yet, the chemistry these two have is the best. I’m aware that Sung Joon is amazing with lip action and Han Ye Seul could even romance a donkey, so I’m surprised I didn’t even consider their pairing until Madam Antoine came along. I love the push and pull game Hye Rim has with Soo Hyun, its entertaining, intense and passionate all at the same time. Weirdly enough it looks like making out without really making out. I love that Soo Hyun will have to eat his own words some day, probably in the near future because, let’s be real, how can anyone not love Hye Rim? She is the epitome of lovable. She’s a head strong career woman with a daughter to take care of and she can do her own business very well, thankyouverymuch. I love it when she does the complete opposite of what Soo Hyun might expect. She’s unexpected and he’s loving it, although he keeps denying it. By the end of the fourth episode though we get into Soo Hyun’s thoughts and golly, he is unexpectedly falling for her. Let the games begin.