I have no spoilers, yet want to provide a loose framework of the differences in this film from many others, especially those made in America. There are no caricatures, even if initially it seems that way. When we discover most of the backstories, it is clear that the book's author was interested in reasons for each person's feelings (much like those we have all known). Thankfully, none of the actors portrays teenagers in high school during the series, with the female lead is working toward her second post high school degree.
These people are in their 20s or early to mid-30s, with the older ones often more inclined to make decisions about life partners. There is joy in the many results and and unhappiness between a few. One of the several reasons I love this film is that it allows secondary and support actors to experience love affairs. Most Asian dramas I have seen only allow physical closeness (embracing, leaning on each other, kissing, or other signs on affection) to the leads, even with married couples in the programs. This was very disappointing for a wonderful husband-wife couple in Amazon Prime's. 'Love Better Than Immortality'. They were the secondary couple and the actors were more authentic in presenting their situation, yet were only allowed to hold hand, no even to embrace. Truly ridiculous!
One man is an arrogant loser, a bona fide jerk who is just like several I've met, while another is a nice guy with a solid, non-offensive crush on the lead and who ultimately became annoying in his denseness (to me, if not the rest of the viewers). A couple women would have been BFF-Mean-Girls in high school if they had met, but each has her own (potentially) valid reason for acting out; neither seemed to be simple plot markers since their backstories were valid for the assumptions made. It was fascinating to watch the lead made be candid about the situations for a surprising change, rather than being the typical, boring dupe as male characters are most often written. Truly loved these small, yet important points because neither sexes need to have people assigned stupidity as a reason for failure. Lack of experience and/or understanding is sufficient.
The title, "I Hear You", refers to several things in this film:
(1) With the leads, it speaks about each of them learning the language of the other person, which in their case is a bit of trouble because they have nothing in common except their nationality and being human. Yet, they each tell the truth in every situation.
(2) Three people separately provide misinformation through lies, omission, or obfuscation.
(3) Two people separately experience imaginary conversations, in which they overwrite the spoken reality.
(4) One person clearly hears the correct words, yet constantly selects second or third definitions that are more suitable to her personal gratification, claiming total belief in her choice over what is mean.
The leads begin their journey toward understanding and a realistic relationship: they are in a very awkward situation because of promises to their separate best friends, who work together. There are several starts, stops, and teetering, so applying the word "falling" to love as a description of their emotions is a misnomer. The leads' experiences with each other begin organically, becoming more defined as episodes progress, growing naturally, with fits, stops, starts, then grow more steadily. Bumps continue along the way due to others' needs or agendas, yet the variations are interesting.
As an American woman, I have been extremely impressed with the manner in which Chinese women are shown equality and respect in films. Lusi Zhao is the headliner because she is the more experiences senior to Riley Wang King in this drama, even though he is three years older. She became 21 in early November this year and has been working for a while in comedies and dramas, being excellent in both. This one always feels like her most natural performance because of the contemporary setting.
As for her best friend/former room mate and the Italian, Mars; people who are settled professionals with more life experience are often willing to move quickly when they have the reasons and opportunity. Why not? If you've waited for years and the other person continually disappoints with no response or remorse until you might no longer are be his fan. What a wreck! Choose life, joy, and hope!!
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