The K-List #15: Lost
As promised, after a long hiatus, I’m back in KDramaland!
It’s been a tough couple of months all things considered, and KDramas were no exception. New ones on-air were all between below par and average, nothing stood out and was even close to deserve a deeper look so I had to go back and rewatch one of my favorites and one of last year’s hidden gems.
Without further ado, let’s talk about Lost, a 2021 JTBC drama.
- Genre: drama, slice of life
- Eps: 16
- Runtime: 1.15 hr
- Leads: Jeon Do Yeon, Ryu Jun Yeol
- Storyline: a writer in her 40s that had her work stolen with her marriage on the brink and a man-for-hire, impersonating whoever the client wants for money, have a life-changing meeting in dire circumstances.
- Being human
Lost has its central theme in the concept of life: what does it really mean to live? Is everyone entitled to have a “true” life or is it something you have to deserve? What to do when the path to that so-called life is now far away in the distance?
It’s a hard topic and Lost doesn’t approach it easily as other dramas: there’s no big event, no disaster nor miracle that makes our protagonists’ lives turn around 360°, just two people living their own boring, middling routine day by day that end up crossing each other’s road.
That makes for such a personal experience: who hasn’t found himself trapped doing the same stuff as days go by, waiting for a change to come instead of pursuing it? The only way things change, a bit or all, is for oneself to take a step forward, and Lost shows it brilliantly.
It’s not a man and a woman running 400m to each other, rather the two of them walking 100m, little steps and small developments they do trying to really live as human beings, and that’s what makes Lost so endearing in all struggles, ups and downs our heroes, looking so much like us, go through.
- Not a rose-colored life
Lost’s tone is as somber as its theme: there’s not much color, comedy, action, thriller, rather a chronicle of two average humans going by their lives in shades of grey.
Our FL is now over 40 and her life’s work, a book about her experience, was stolen by her former employee, which took all returns from it. Trapped in a marriage devoid of love, she just wants to make ends meet for the sake of her old father, keeping a bleak status quo without bothering him.
Jeon Do Yeon’s rendition of such a troubled character is flawless: wearing her emotions on a sleeve she’s so expressive she doesn’t even need words to tell the whole story, you just have to look at her face and demeanor to know it.
Her constant struggle between getting closer to what she wants, a life worth living and not be ashamed of, and the price she’d have to pay for it, breaking off her marriage and risking the little she has, is an emotional punch in the guts, and her amazing acting only conveys it better.
While she’s halfway down the road of life, our ML has only just started and at 20something there’s a lot to live for, if he had any idea about what. A man without a dream, or anything to push him along the way, money is his only desire: a stand-in, he lives like another person, whether a relative, a boyfriend or an acquaintance, for a price, while refusing to find his own.
Ryu Jun Yeol’s performance is astonishing: his raggedy charm is so fitting for a truly lost character, one that hasn’t found his way because he still hasn’t one to walk. His low voice, introverted mannerisms and eerie appearance make him the perfect ML you can’t help but being glued to the screen by, even if he makes the wrong choices.
One of the most underrated aspects of Lost is the romance: it may not be that legendary love story many other dramas aim for, but it’s so mature and has a meaning that is not just about putting them together for the sake of it.
They don’t have the roller-coaster ride of a rom-com but their relationship is more tense because of that: they can’t help but like each other as they talk about their innermost thoughts and secrets, and while what they’d want to do is morally and ethically wrong, she’s still married, they are inevitably attracted by one another.
Such a burning chemistry without using a romance’s classic tropes, rather focusing on dialogues, is a rare feat and both deserve a praise for it.
- Complete package
Whereas acting is A+, all other aspects follow suit: direction is on point, technically impeccable, with OSTs worth listening to that fit the mood of the show.
Writing is the real strength though: without resorting to elaborate explanations, happenings or detours, it presents a story of life through the lenses of common people in their few successes and many failures.
The plot never goes astray and closes its circle in the end, leaving the possibility of a better future for both ML and FL, showing how their lives may not be completely reversed but just minimally changed, and that in itself is growth, more so than any dramatic turnaround.
- A steep mountain
There’s no denying: Lost is a tough watch. Emotionally draining, a terrifyingly slow start to then get on a neutral pacing, this is not a drama for everyone.
Themes hit close to home, episodes are longer than usual and things move ever so slightly I couldn’t fault you from being bored sometimes, and I wouldn’t recommend this one if you’re not ready for such a journey or you’re searching for series with a higher rythm.
If you’re in the market for something less flashy and more serious though, there ain’t much better around.
- A story of two
As much as the leads are great, they lack a bit in the support department. The FL’s husband and his past love regret is a whiff of a storyline, the ML’s friends are decent but not consequential and the ML’s family is not much either.
There are a couple of strong secondaries though: a unique loyalty/love relationship between the woman who stole the FL’s work and a club owner and a beautiful show of respect and empathy between the FL’s dad and her mother in law.
Lost is a gem of a drama, an essay about life, searching its meaning in the daily hardships of two anonymous individuals. There’s so much to like and so many emotions to experience, cheering for our ML and FL to move even a mere inch in the direction of a more complete, meaningful existence, that it almost becomes a self-reflection.
We can do better, we can go ever so close to a life that is a bit more lively and less constrained by our own walls of routines and beliefs, and we don’t need to destroy and revolution our whole livelihood to do that. It’s a marathon, not a sprint race, so let’s keep on walking our 42 km at our own pace.
If a drama can tell you that, that’s nothing short of elite, and Lost indeed is an elite production in all facets, from an award-worthy cast of actors, leads foremost, to beautiful visuals and emotional OSTs.
That’s all for now, waiting for more amazing dramas to come out, see you in the next K-List entry!