Madame Antoine tells the story of a fake fortune teller (Han Ye Seul) who has the ability to read other people’s feelings and a top psychologist (Sung Joon) who is amazing at his job, but is insensitive to love. The two become involved in a “psychological game” with each other as they fall in love.
And I fell in love with Madame Antoine too! What a wonderful drama! It took me a few episodes to really get into it, but then it just got better and better all the way to the end. It’s one of those dramas filled with fun, quirky characters and full of so much heartwarming goodness.
Add in some comedy as well some deeper reflection into the desires, pain, and emotions of people, and you have one fabulous drama.
To my great surprise, I have to say that I really got a kick out of Sung Joon in this role. I haven’t cared for him much in the past because he always came off so stiff in the dramas I’ve seen him in. But he changed my mind in this role! Now on the surface, his character in Madame Antoine is a bit cold and stiff, but underneath that icy surface is a very animated person.
In many ways, Choi Soo Hyun was like a big kid. He always needed to be right and was willing to play silly games in order to get ahead. Because of his experiment, he repeatedly lies to Hye Rim and is very manipulative.
This could easily make his character very unappealing, but Sung Joon made him quite funny. I was delighted by some of his comical facial expressions. Whether it be his smugness in achieving his goal, frustration in defeat, or shock at his developing feelings, he had so many great expressions to share that I never knew were there before.
He’s also a fast talker who knows how to wiggle his way out of difficult situations. I haven’t really seen this more comical side to Sung Joon before, and it was just really great to see him be more lively.
And he was even able to bring forth the needed emotion to convey the pain that was buried deep in Soo Hyun’s heart. Despite his repeated lies and manipulations, I was able to connect with Soo Hyun when he showed the hurt he was feeling as well as the fact they he really was falling in love with Hye Rim. It’s really great to connect with an actor you previously didn’t in such a big way.
Han Ye Seul as Go Hye Rim is a perfect fit. She plays fun and peppy characters so well. Hye Rim is a ray of sunshine that brightens up everyone around her. She has her own issues and insecurities to deal with, and Soo Hyun’s experiment makes her face them head on. All of the guys end up falling for her, but it’s Soo Hyun who she is able to help in more ways than one.
Lee Joo Hyung did well as the scientific and somewhat robotic Won Ji Ho. He is a sweet guy that grew on me as the drama progressed. Despite being extremely smart, Ji Ho’s interactions with people are almost on a childlike level.
As he develops feelings for Hye Rim, he has to learn how to act on his feelings like a young teenager would. He gets a little help from Hye Rim’s sister, Yoo Rim (Hwang Sung Eon), as he navigates the confusing world of relationships.
Jung Jin Woon is all smiles as Choi Sung Chan. He’s a carefree, happy guy that is full of charm. He was pretty adorable with Hye Rim. But his character really shines in his relationship with Bae Mi Ran.
Jang Mi Hee plays Dr. Bae Mi Ran. This classy, intelligent woman is such a sweet character. After a cancer diagnosis, she wants to live her life to the fullest. Enter Sung Chan. Despite the 30+ year age gap, she takes a liking to him. Their relationship is a lot of fun, but even they have to deal with some difficult circumstances. I really liked these two and thought they were pretty cute together.
I loved the psychological aspect of the drama. As with any kdramas, the mental illnesses experienced are more easily overcome than in real life. But the drama brought light to a variety of illnesses and really explored the complexities of the human mind. I always like when a show draws attention to issues people might not otherwise know about or understand.
One thing that might prevent some people from enjoying the romance aspect of Madame Antoine is the fact that Soo Hyun lies and manipulates Hye Rim for months, and it goes on for a good chunk of the drama.
While I don’t approve of what he did at all, we eventually learn the difficult truth behind why he does. But if you feel that it may be too much of a stretch to sympathize with Soo Hyun’s extenuating circumstances, you will probably just be annoyed with both him for his repeated lies and Hye Rim for putting up with it.
The drama also has a few of the secondary story arcs that could have been fleshed out a bit more in the last few episodes. Some issues aren’t completely cleared up. But for me, those things were very minor because the main story and all the characters were always completely captivating.
We learn that Soo Hyun experienced a severe trauma as a child that has completely shaped his view of love. Because his mother scolded and then abandoned him at a theme park, he blames himself for her leaving. He also doesn’t believe in love because he thinks women will always eventually abandon him. All of this was reinforced by the lack of love he felt from his family.
The experiment he performs on Hye Rim that is meant to prove true love doesn’t exist is his coping mechanism that he hopes will provide some comfort and take away some of the blame he feels toward himself if the experiment proves true.
But a few episodes into the drama, we do learn that Soo Hyun is genuinely falling for Hye Rim. He fights the feelings tooth and nail and continues the experiment. While I definitely felt bad for Hye Rim, I found it really sad that Soo Hyun was trying so hard to overcome his feelings and continue the experiment because of the trauma he experienced as a child.
While his past experience in no way excuses what he did to Hye Rim, if you look at the whole picture of him desperately trying to cope with such devastating feelings and emotions, it really puts the situation into perspective.
There is no question that he loves Hye Rim, and he wrestles with stopping the experiment frequently. But it’s just too much for him too overcome. When Hye Rim finally leaves him because of what he has done, his world crumbles. He knows he is to blame for what happened which just reinforces the trauma he experienced as a child. And the one he loves has left again because of his own failure. It was all heartbreaking to watch.
But because of her love for him, Hye Rim returns and was able to be there for him in a way that no one else had. Despite the hurt he had caused her, she took the time to understand him and help him anyway.
She helped him to face his past with his mother and finally express those feelings he had trapped inside of him since he was a child. By doing so, she opened the door for his healing as well as their happiness as a couple. What a beautiful thing.
And again, I only have praises for Sung Joon for bringing to life the depth and sublties of Soo Hyun’s character. From cocky and over-confident to pain-filled and heartbroken, watching him fall in love for the first time was such an interesting experience.
I was also so moved by Sung Chan and Mi Ran’s relationship. I think they made a pretty great couple, but that’s not the direction they go in. They develop a deep friendship that is very understanding of the other’s feelings. Sung Chan cares for Mi Ran so much that he does anything and everything to help and care for her. What a joy it was to watch.
Madame Antoine was such a heartwarming drama. It had so many interesting characters that were each dealing with difficult issues. I loved seeing them all come together as a sort of family at the Madame Antoine Café. Sung Joon really impressed me and as always, I loved Han Yi Seul. On the surface, Madame Antoine is a simple romantic comedy, but for me, it went so much deeper. I’m so glad I got to experience such an amazing drama.
My Rating: 9/10
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