Actor Ji Chang-wook in If You Wish Upon Me (2022) has shown that performances don’t need heavily dramatic, intense scenes all the time to be great.
In this drama, he transforms into an ex-convict who lives a mysterious life being chased by a squad of goons for money, at the same time a lonely life with Sonny, his sick dog. Entangled in a car accident with an ambulance one day, he finds himself working as a volunteer in a hospice hospital in exchange for the driver’s hurt leg. His somber life gets shaken upon meeting ordinary yet happy folks in the hospital who he thinks are weird—the terminally ill patients who wish to do something in their final moments and a dedicated group of hospital workers called Team Genie who grants these wishes.
Not used to living a life with warm people, being served a meal by a family member, nor guided with wisdom or comforted with words, he avoids connection all the time except his dog. Outwardly, he looks like a difficult person to deal with for his gangster like appearance and grumpy mood but in the hidden depths of his humanity lies vulnerability and empathy.
Ji Chang-wook deeply embodies this character into a performance of ingenious consistency of depicting emotions in various situations—no exaggeration of expressions, no lack of depth—his eyes, mannerism, gestures, the habit of scratching his head, the way he walks and talks tell us that he is Yoon Gyeo-rye, a restless soul finding rest in the quiet embrace of his dog—a homeless life finding home in the company of strangers—an unhappy life finding happiness in simple conversations—a life down in the dumps finding new reasons to live through the lives of others who are at death’s door, perishing, vanishing in the background.
He carried nearly every scene from aimlessly wandering to fleeting bliss to sudden burst of irritability to utter sadness, disbelief, avoidance, and pensive thoughts of death. Even in silent moments, he manages to convey emotions that move you through the screen.
Everytime Ji Chang-wook appears on screen as Yoon Gyeo-rye, you can’t deny to marvel at his pure performance. He is the character. He is the star of the show. He completely shines in this simple, slice of life drama, worthy to be heralded as one of the best K-drama actors of the year.
[Copyright KORB Blog]
Genre: Slice of life
Synopsis: The story of patients and caregivers about life and death in a hospice hospital.
No of episodes: 16
Cast: Ji Chang-wook, Sung Dong-il, Choi Soo-young
Writer: Jo Ryeong-soo
Director: Kim Yong-wan
Network: KBS2, Viu
Date: August 10 to September 29, 2022