Is this what it means to lose yourself in something you love?
I don’t think I can even describe the thrill of watching Method for the first time—the feeling of being sucked in by Park Sung-Woong’s stellar acting, Oh Seung-Hoon being pretty (I think that’s just how my mind works), or just the premise of the movie in itself. It was a new experience, one that I welcomed with open arms back then because it was so different from the Korean media I was so used to consuming.
Bang Eun-Jin’s Method is set in the backdrop of theatre and revolves around what is packaged as a “dangerous, forbidden love story” between the main leads—something that needs to be unpacked carefully so that we understand the movie beyond these words. Young-Woo (Oh Seung-Hoon), a teen idol who’s on hiatus from his idol activities after a motorcycle accident, is cast in a stage play alongside veteran theatre artist Lee Jae-Ha (Park Sung-Woong). The younger man’s indifferent attitude towards acting and the play in general has Jae-Ha frustrated in the beginning, but he wins Young-Woo over with his brilliant acting skills. Thus begins their interest in each other.
The movie does keep the audience on its toes—we’re confused as to whether the love between them is a result of Jae-Ha’s inability to distinguish what happens in the play from reality or not (although we are sure of Young-Woo’s feelings towards Jae-ha). With dialogues from the play that make their way off-stage, we end up being just as confused as Jae-Ha up until the actual staging of the play at the end of the movie.
Of course, there’s a catch to this story. Jae-ha lives with his long-time partner, Hee-Won (Yoon Seung-Ah), who slowly figures out that there just might be something between Jae-Ha and Young-Woo. This leads to a whole can of worms being opened, with not only Young-Woo’s management company becoming aware of the situation but also the paparazzi swooping in for a new scoop.
The staging of the play in itself is a masterpiece, and the two leads do such a wonderful job especially in the last few sequences of the movie. Park Sung-Woong has always been popular for being a wonderful actor. However, it is to be noted that Oh Seung-Hoon performed to his best abilities, even though he was a newcomer in the field at the time. He plays the perfect Singer to Park Sung-Woong’s Walter, stealing the hearts of many. His jealous gaze towards Jae-Ha and Hee-Won when they narrate the story of how they fell in love with each other mirrors the same emotions as that of Singer towards Claire as well (Walter’s wife, I assume). Yoon Seung-Ah plays the role of Hee-Won so beautifully, highlighting her anger and frustration at the precarious situation they’re in, one which she perceives is a result of Jae-Ha’s devotion to method acting.
That said, there are a few things that did get on my nerves. I am not a fan of the whole “I’m not gay, I just like you” narrative. The line found its way into this movie, and I did not like it. It just looks terrible, almost as if the characters are holding on to what I call an illusion of heterosexuality. You may call it a queer person’s pet peeve.
Another issue I had with the movie is how Hee-Won is treated throughout the movie. The fact that she was the one who ‘ratted out’ the relationship to the management company almost villianises her (when it really shouldn’t, as it is hinted that Young-Woo may not be ‘of age’). Her dialogues after Jae-Ha and Young-Woo are caught during their getaway by his manager suggest that it’s not the first time Jae-Ha has fallen for a co-star. And yet, she welcomes him with open arms at the end of the movie, not saying anything, as she had always done in the past. I really wish she’d stopped letting everyone treat her like a doormat.
Oh, and one more thing. Not all fans are screaming teenage girls who are willing to follow their idols around. Just saying.
Despite all this, Method is still very special to me as it marks the beginning of my foray into Korean queer media in 2017 (yes, it’s only been four years). The emotions I felt when I watched it back then are still fresh in my mind.
However, I wonder whether my love for it has waned through the past few rewatches.
Don’t get me wrong—I still felt the same thrill from four years ago, watching Jae-Ha and Young-Woo go shirtless for their photoshoot to promote the play (fanservice and business gay performances are actual practices, everyone, whether onscreen or offscreen). I just wish they had more time to strengthen the chemistry between the actors, and delve deeper into issues related to method acting and its psychological effects (not to be taken lightly because you would not want to come off as ableist), or idol management practices, among other things. Ah, well. The movie is less than 90 minutes after all.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5