Silence


Reviewed by: tokyo.moonlit

October 14, 2006

Rating: four-point-five

If you thought that Vic Zhou was gorgeous as the dreamy, sensitive Hua Ze Lei in "Meteor Garden", or dashingly charming as the rebellious Chen Ling in "Mars", just wait till you watch his latest drama, Silence.

Silence aired during early 2006 in Taiwan. It is quite a breakthrough – it brings together actors/actresses from diverse backgrounds: Vic Zhou (Taiwan), Park Eun-hye (South Korea), and Andy Hui (Hong Kong). Other than the different nationalities of its lead characters, Silence is also a bittersweet and tender drama series that is more substantial than the usual fluffy Taiwanese shows (e.g. Devil Beside You – which was enjoyable, but ultimately candy) but not as heartbreaking as the tragic Korean dramas (think Autumn Love Story). It finds a delicate – and wonderful – balance between both extremes.

Cast:

Qi Wei Yi – Vic Zhou
Zhao Shen Shen – Park Eun-hye
Zhuo Jun – Andy Hui
Mi Xiao Guang – Lai Ya Yan
Yellow – Kingone Wang Chuan Yi

Plot (warning: spoilers ahead!)

In the vein of the great Korean dramas, Silence starts off with the lead characters as children. Qi Wei Yi and Zhao Shen Shen meet by chance during a stay in the same hospital. Wei Yi had been beaten up by jealous peers after he won a swimming competition, and hobbles around in a white cast, while Shen Shen had been involved in a car accident. Both are lonely children – the proud and angry Wei Yi shuns most of his classmates, while Shen Shen stops speaking after the trauma she has been through.

During the one week that they are in hospital together, they exchange notes, go to the amusement park, meet in their secret hideaway (an abandoned bomb shelter), and hold hands while listening to music. They agree to meet at the bomb shelter again on the Christmas of 2006 (more than ten years in the future). Wei Yi also gives Shen Shen his number, and asks her to call him. Unfortunately, she later loses the number, and she never calls him.

Fast forward to 2006, when they are now adults. Wei Yi, the new director of his father's company, is cold, distant, and aloof. Shen Shen still doesn't speak. They meet again by chance, but are unaware of each other's identities. While there is mutual dislike and distrust at first, a friendship gradually forms between them, and they fall in love all over again.

Actors:

Vic Zhou as Qi Wei Yi – Vic's acting seems to improve with every new series that he works on. Here, his expressions are nuanced and subtle, and he manages to bring out Wei Yi's inner loneliness very well. Vic has a stature that many other Taiwanese male leads do not possess – despite his quiet air, he dominates the screen naturally. Maybe it's because of height, or because of the way the director almost lovingly frames him in every shot (quite manga-inspired), or because of his manga good looks, or the sharp suits that he wears here, or because of his quiet, reflective voice – whatever the case, he is absolutely mesmerizing in this drama. Whether he's the cold and untouchable director firing his workers, or the tired young man trying to hide his illness from his closest ones, or the vulnerable Wei Yi hopelessly in love with Shen Shen, he expresses the different shades of his role wonderfully. The way he handles his crying scenes, though, shows that he still lacks depth as an actor. Somehow, he doesn't bring across the sorrow and bitterness that he is supposed to feel. But he's improving!

Park Eun-hye as Zhao Shen Shen – Park Eun-hye doesn't have as nuanced a role as Vic does. Shen Shen is basically your typical uncomplicated, sincere and sweet girl, full of goodness – the stereotypical heroine in most dramas. However, she cannot speak (because she can't speak Mandarin, they adapted the role to make her mute), and she uses sign language to communicate. Her sign language looks fantastic and natural, and very, very graceful. I almost want to learn sign language after watching how she does it in this show! Being unable to speak, she also has to be more expressive, and this is where her technique as an actress is evident. She manages to emote well without a single word: a trembling mouth, large teary eyes, a sideways glance - all of these are used to great effect.

Andy Hui as Zhuo Jun – I hated Andy Hui in this show, because he kept trying to break the two leads up. I guess this means that he did his role well. He pulls off the funnier moments very easily (great comic timing), and some of his expressions can be very subtle and effective as well. You can tell he seems pretty experienced at this. It unnerves me how he switches from Mandarin to Cantonese whenever he feels like it, though – I do understand both languages, both still! It's unexpected and a little jarring.

Lai Ya Yan as Mi Xiao Guang – Firstly, she cries way too much in this show. I don't know if she's trying to establish herself as a more 'serious' actress or not - she cries even more than Park Eun-hye does! There are too many scenes of her running and crying. It wouldn't have been so bad if she looked pretty crying (like Park Eun-hye), but she just looks annoying. She's a better actress here than she was in "Mars", but still, alongside the others, she lacks depth.

Wang Chuan Yi as Yellow – This guy should totally have a whole show to himself! It is a waste for him to be cast in supporting roles. He has perfect comic timing, handling all the lighter moments and cheesy lines really well, and he also pulls off the more emotional scenes very capably. I saw him in "Devil Beside You" and thought he was really good – and he's even better here!

What I liked about the show:

- The amazingly poetic lines
- The soundtrack
- The wardrobe: Vic wears really sharp and smart business suits, and he looks so good! They could have improved Yellow's wardrobe though (I do understand that it was in keeping with his role, but still, he could have looked so much better!)
- The cinematography (a lot of the scenes looked manga-inspired)
- Vic!
- The use of sign language

What I didn't like:

- Too many crying scenes
- Too many flashbacks to when they were kids
- The last episode was a little too rushed

Favorite moments (in random order):

- Whenever Wei Yi listens to his iPod (he looks SO GOOD!)
- When Wei Yi first finds out about Shen Shen's true identity
- The whole day that Wei Yi spends with Shen Shen and the kids after he finds out about her identity
- Wei Yi teaching Ah Han how to swim
- Wei Yi and Shen Shen writing notes on a brown paper bag, on the bench
- Zhuo Jun's father talking to Wei Yi in the church
- Shen Shen asking Wei Yi to choose between the 2 postcards in the church
- Shen Shen using sign language to the song on the beach
- During the dinner party at Wei Yi's house, when Shen Shen stands up and uses sign language to talk to him
- All the scenes when Wei Yi and Shen Shen are living together
- Wei Yi's costume at the costume party for Yellow's sister
- Yellow's sister's encounters with Wei Yi in the office
- After Shen Shen faints and Wei Yi brings her back, and she says thank you using sign language
- Wei Yi hugging Shen Shen in the rain
- Wei Yi telling Zhuo Jun never to hurt Shen Shen
- Wei Yi and Shen Shen meeting in the airport
- Wei Yi reading the message that Shen Shen sent him, where she confessed that she liked him

Conclusion:

If you're a Vic fan, you have to watch this. If you're not a Vic fan but love Taiwanese dramas, you have to watch this. If you're not a Vic fan and don't usually watch Taiwanese shows, you have to watch this to see how much improvement there has been! I am a K-drama fan and basically gave up on Taiwanese dramas ("Meteor Garden" was the best) till I watched "Mars". Silence just proves that things are getting better!


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