First Impression: Navillera

Drama Profile

Title: Navillera
Main Cast: Park In-hwan, Song Kang, Na Moon-hee, Hong Seung-hee
Writer: Lee Eun-mi (Tunnel)
PD: Han Dong-hwa (Miss Lee)
Timeslot: Monday and Tuesday / 21:00H
Network: tvN
Episodes: 12
Genre: Dramedy

Plot Synopsis:

Based on a webtoon of the same title, Navillera follows 70-years-old Shim Deok-chul, who wants to pursue his life-long dream of learning ballet. Together with young ballet dancer Lee Chae-rok, they will learn to navigate life through the help of their mutual love for dancing.

Maknae’s Impression:

I was afraid to start this drama because of the melancholic overtone I’ve noticed on its teasers. I’m scared that it would make me cry buckets. Plus I have a weak heart for lost dreamers regardless of age. The premiere week episodes of Navillera proved my suspicions. However, it gave me a chance to have a good cry instead – that kind that cleanses my soul and heart so that I could watch the story of Shim Deok-chul (Park In-hwan) and Lee Chae-rok (Song Kang) with a much clearer eyes.

The setting for the first episode’s opening scene was a funeral. It also served as the background for Shim Deok-chul’s character introduction and it was as straightforward as it can get. He is a retired mailman in the dusk of his life. Sure, his family has issues but his life seems ordinary. Death is also not a new thing for him as he said in the funeral scene: “As you get older, you get used to goodbyes.” However, when his closest friend Gyo-seok (Lee Young-suk) died, he was left to question whether it is really too late for him to do what he wants in his life. With a renewed view of life, Deok-chul seeks the help of young ballet dancer Lee Chae-rok.

We’ve learned in this premiere that Chae-rok had gone through a lot in life. His father has been discharged from prison and cut off contact with him, his mother died, he’s also struggling financially and being tormented by people who seem to blame him for a past sin yet to be revealed fully. All this made Chae-rok’s character aloof and moody. He is reluctantly paired up by his mentor Ki Seung-joo (Kim Tae-hoon) with Deok-chul, in the premise that Seung-joo seonsaengnim thinks harabeoji will help Chae-rok fall in love again with ballet.

These sequences eventually set-up the main plot of this new series. And it was what I enjoyed and look forward to see more in the coming episodes. I’m excited to see more of the refreshing dynamic between Chae-rok and Deok-chul harabeoji as well as their relationship with the other characters. It seems that Deok-chul’s wife Choi Hae-nam (Na Moon-hee) and granddaughter Shim Eun-ho (Hong Seung-hee) will play a big part in fleshing out our two main characters. I also like the tad bits we’ve seen with Seung-joo and his ex-wife Eun So-ri (Yoon Ji-hye). Although, I think there would be little filler scenes for this series as it will only run for 12 episodes.

What’s also amusing for Navillera is its narration style. Its storytelling leans on both visuals and dialogues but I think, they’re banking most of the time with its cinematography. There were scenes that the framing and composition tell a story on their own even without the character uttering a single word. Sometimes the visuals alone elicit heart-rending emotions from me but I guess, I’m really more a linguistic type of person rather than a spatial one since this line from Deok-chul harabeoji stirred more emotions from me than anything else in the premiere week:
“I’ve never done anything I wanted to do my entire life. I’ve been too busy making ends meet and supporting my family to even dream of it. I thought it was only natural. And now I’m finally trying to do what I want to do. I know very well that I’m old and weak. Still, I want to try it. I don’t care if I lose to reality. I want to give it a shot at least.”

The series was profound without being too imposing. And I think everyone will find something that they can relate to in Navillera. After all, it’s telling a story from the perspective of two characters in different points of their life but wants the same thing: a second chance at life.

Image credit: tvN

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