Nevertheless (2021)


Directed By: Kim Ga-ram

Written By: Jung Seo (Webtoon writer); Jung Won

Language: Korean                                                         

Genre: Romance; Drama

No of Episodes – 10

Run-time – 60-70 minutes

Cast:

Han So-hee – Yu Na-bi

Song Kang – Park Jae-eon

Chae Jong-hyeop – Yang Do-hyeok

Lee Yul-eum – Yoon Seol-a

Yang Hye-ji – Oh Bit-na

Kim Min-gwi – Nam Gyu-hyun

Lee Ho-jung – Yoon Sol

Yoon Seo-ah – Seo Ji-wan

Jung Jae-kwang – Ahn Kyung-joon

Han Ee-ddeum – Min-young

Yoon Sa-bong – Jung Sook-eun

Nevertheless follows the lives of young arts students in a university who are figuring out their complicated love lives amidst a modern world of cynicism and lack of commitment.

There are four plotlines with the central story focusing on Yu Na-bi (Han So-hee) and Park Jae-eon (Song Kang). The series starts by detailing Na-bi’s rather painful and humiliating break-up with her ex – an older artist. This coupled with her experience growing up with a mum who has never found stable connections, has made her a cynic, unwilling to believe in the possibility of romantic love. And yet, a chance meeting with Jae-eon, a young, attractive and suitably mysterious man makes her want for more. He draws her into a passionate non-relationship relationship that both approach from very different spaces.

Jae-eon is charming and his entry into any room considerably raises the sexual tension because he is simultaneously flirtatious and indifferent to everyone. But even Jae-eon recognises that Na-bi affects him in a manner unlike others.

Na-bi’s friend, Bit-na (Yang Hye-ji) rather perfectly compares him to a flower, beautiful, present but not exclusive – something that really underscores their bond. And since Na-bi means butterfly, it becomes a recurring motif in the series.

Nevertheless explores toxicity in relationships and does so realistically by exposing its many facets. In the sense, some people are just toxic to everyone because of how they interact; it may be gaslighting, putting them down, manipulation, stringing them along and more. But sometimes, even if you are not the toxic one in your primary relationship, your half-hearted response to someone else could make you the toxic one over there, such as Na-bi with her childhood friend Yang Do-hyeok (Chae Jong-hyeop). Hence the title track has a male and female take on it. 

Other such toxic spaces would be Seo Ji-wan’s (Yoon Seo-ah) possessive ‘friendship’ of Yun Sol (Lee Ho-jung) which is matched by her unwillingness to actually be there for Sol. Or Bit-na’s simplistic definition of being a couple that leaves Nam Gyu-hyun (Kim Min-gwi) unfulfilled and unhappy.

 In contrast to this we see the older graduate students and teaching assistants Ahn Kyung-joon (Jung Jae-kwang) and Min-young (Han Ee-ddeum) who probably with relative stability (not that they have everything figured out) show a mature development. However, the series doesn’t claim that age or time means that you will figure things out – case in point being Na-bi’s mum and Jae-eon’s mum.

But, one of the nicest things about hope in romance comes from Na-bi’s aunt Jung Sook-eun (Yoon Sa-bong) who mentions that she admires her sister for her willingness to try again and again every time she meets someone and there is a spark.

Nevertheless looks at the possibility of resolution and it doesn’t have to do with one person changing but with them finding a middle ground. Any relationship that fails to commit or forces one person to give up their essential needs becomes toxic and yet, if love can colour your world brighter, it can teach you hope.

The series has beautiful camera work that uses close-ups of the eyes and lips to show heightened emotion such as desire and sometimes to show disconnection. It thus mimics the style of a webtoon. Added to the intimacy created by the camera is the soft sensual lighting that makes the series a sensory experience especially when coupled with the beautiful haunting OST.

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