Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell!

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Title
Ting Jian Xing Fu (2015)
Also known as
  Listen to happiness   or    Someone Like You
Genre
  Comedy, Melodrama, Romance, Rom-Com
Written by
 Chen Jie-Ying, Zhu Ying, Luo Qian-ni, Lin Pei-yu, Zheng Ying-min, Zheng Han-wen
Directed by
 Chen Rong-hui 
Country of Origin
 Taiwan
Episodes
20

oh! … brief

Fang Zhancheng loses everything in a tragic accident on the way to his wedding photo shoot – his fiancée, Liang Luo Han, doesn’t survive and he loses his sight due to corneal damage.

Devastated by the loss of his fiancée, he refuses corrective surgery, instead opting for a personal caretaker to help him manoeuvre his way through life. But his depression and anger over his loss mean he hires and fires caretakers a dime a dozen until Chen Yuxi is employed.

Chen Yuxi is his wife’s doppelganger – she looks and sounds like Liang Luo Han. And Fang Zhancheng is drawn to her without knowing the reason why. In time, he begins to let his guard down and starts to fall for Chen Yuxi’s charm. But their blossoming relationship is threatened by others and their secrets, suspicions and desires.

oh! … talks drama

I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed this production! The storyline is simple and easy to understand and although it does at times descend into drama cliché hell, I still loved every minute of it. I think that’s in due to the heaviness and intensity of the previous tdrama I’d been watching which called for some comedic and lighter romantic relief. This tdrama delivered and then some!

I’ve had mixed reactions to some of the productions coming out of Taiwan, whether they are films or TV series-styled dramas. They’re either really good or really awful, there seems to be no middle ground. Fortunately, I’m glad to report that I found this, and in the whole understanding of Asian dramaland, it’s good light relief and entertaining. Though, I must admit I am a growing fan of Kingone Wang, so, maybe I’m a little biased.

The script required the expertise of six writers?!! I’m not kidding, Chen Jie-Ying, Zhu Ying, Luo Qian-ni, Lin Pei-yu, Zheng Ying-min, Zheng Han-wen all were part of the writing team for this production. Maybe that is why there are so many drama clichés included? However, for some unknown and absolutely silly reason, for this production, all those clichés actually work. And in fact, they created a very entertaining and endearing body of work.

This bittersweet love-story is very touching while balancing some wicked wit and poignant themes. The writers gave each character really good lines to work with and continual character development throughout the production. I was entertained by Chen Yuxi’s feisty character – the girl had spunk and a healthy dose of self-awareness, but, she doesn’t read the men around her very well! The reserved Fang Zhancheng who keeps his troubled thoughts and emotions to himself and has a prickly exterior to start with was great. But I found the writing around the softening of this character’s heart and emotions just superb. The chemistry between Fang Zhancheng and Chen Yuxi was powerful, even when they were bumping into each other – metaphorically speaking of course.

There are a couple of twists to the story which I don’t want to explain as they are spoilers, but the addition of a rival to Chen Yuxi in the form of an organ recipient makes things interesting and keeps the wheels spinning. Of course, the audience knows this before the characters do, weird how that sometimes happens. Also interestingly enough the rival takes a back seat and isn’t out to ruin things for anyone, just trying to understand their own life and their own path. It makes for a little bit of angst, but not excessive.

I must commend the writers for this production for crafting a story that includes romantic love between the two leads, but, also the love of sisters, even though they are strangers. It was a good dynamic to display the importance, but, also to draw the lines between platonic and romantic feelings. I liked it! Also, the discussion around sibling love when siblings are not directly related. It was quite interesting to include this. I guess you could say that love was the overarching theme behind this production and there were many different angles – love for family, love for friends, misguided love, sibling love, sisterhood, abusive love etc. And the guy who took this product and turned it into a visually aesthetic body of work was none other than one of my favoured Taiwanese directors.

Chen Rong-hui, who is also the director of some of the other Taiwanese productions I have reviewed Bromance or Behind Your Smile, was the director for this production too and it was great, just like his others! From the acting through to the set designs and camera work, Chen Rong-hui delivered seamlessly once again. I appreciated this tdrama from start to finish. I enjoyed the high-speed race that kicked the show off and the following scenes flashing between the race and the tense business meeting. It was nicely coordinated.

In fact, a lot of the cinematography was exceptional for this production, given it is a television drama series and budget is not considered for these types of productions. Locations scouted and secure for filming were in some cases really beautiful, I wish I could find out the locations, as I like to share that info. The cameramen used the multi-cam setup on the various sets and in the various locations to simultaneously record the scenes from multiple angles, this allowed such wonderful work on the production and is also one of Chen Rong-hui’s preferred styles for filming tdramas.

Chen Rong-hui also loves reaction-shot styled camera work – he fills the screen at times in this production with Fang Zhancheng’s smile in response to the perceived reaction of Wang Yuxi, who he is either trying to comfort or impress. Either way, the capturing of a self-satisfied (but not in a malicious way) smile is fantastic! I loved those reaction shots! The lighting for this production was very creative. It can be hard to light up multiple characters in a single shot, while still producing images in which colours are deeply saturated. I think Chen Rong-hui accomplished this with his cinematographer.

To complement the locations and sets, wardrobe did a fine job of developing authentic costumes for the cast, with attention to detail throughout. It makes everything that much better when the finer details, like hair accessories or shoes, or even a necktie or scarf tie in well to the character and the choices of clothing. This production achieved a wonderful wardrobe and pleasing props etc., whether they were in the homes or the office locations.

I really enjoyed the soundtrack that accompanied this production which featured Tracy Wang (Empty), Lorene Ren (Loving or Not, I’m Still Lonely), Koala Liu (Have Not Found You) and Huang Yali (Ancient Resistance).

What completed this tdrama and made it the entertaining production it was is, of course, the cast chosen for the various character roles. I think Chen Rong-hui did a great job in the choices he made for his leads, but also for the most part the supporting roles.

As I’ve already written, Kingone Wang played the male lead Fang Zhangcheng and he carried and delivered an outstanding and solid performance. He perfectly depicted a blind person’s nuanced body language – the slight tilt of the head, the moving of eyes in the direction of a speaking person, the almost constant downturn of the head. It was astounding to see Kingone Wang pick up these little nuances and deliver them throughout his performance while his character was ‘blind’. It’s quite amazing. I have to also say those sweet smiles when he’s enjoying the pleasure he has given Chen Yuxi, that was an endearing and nice touch. I really enjoyed Kingone Wang’s performance, it was organic and a true reflection, but depicted with a soft gentle mannerism. Hands down the best performance of the production!

Lorene Ren, the double leading lady – Liang Luo-Han (Fang Zhangcheng’s fiancée) and then as caretaker extraordinaire Chen Yuxi. I think I preferred her performance as Liang Luo-Han, a quieter, more mature but she gave equal talent and honest performances. She delivered the right amount of feisty, stubborn caretaker heading into the production and then balanced it with more understanding and heartwarming kindness once she realized the depth of Fang Zhangcheng’s heartache. I preferred her gentle, loving side to her frustrated and stubborn side. I enjoyed watching the facial expressions, the snide grimaces, the furrowed brow. Lorene Ren sure made use of her face throughout the production to exhibit her character’s emotions, sentiments and idiosyncrasies. It was fun to watch.

Sean Lee is another of my favoured Taiwanese actors and I thoroughly enjoyed his performance as Li Bo-yan, the self-centered and power-hungry boyfriend to Chen Yuxi. His performance was strong and I really believed that while he had affections for Chen Yuxi, she was never important enough and the relationship would never be considered seriously. I would have liked to see more of that broiling determination and anger bubble to the surface instead it simmers and simmers and simmers. But I guess that is preferable to excessive over-acting. I enjoyed Sean Lee’s performance and understood his character even as I silently despised him from my comfy chair!

Nita Lei played the third wheel in the relationship as Xu Yati. I don’t know about other viewers, but this performance for me was more than a little flat. I understood the character and the role in the overall story, but I found the interpretation of this sickly sweet young woman really annoying. I wanted to see a little more “oooomph” in the performance and when it wasn’t forthcoming I was disappointed. And by “oooomph”, I mean a little more spirited and appealing. Nita Lei’s performance wasn’t distracting, it just felt very one dimensional and I hate it when reviewers say that because it seems so passé, but truly as human beings, our personalities and spirit combined with our behaviours animates us in certain ways. Xu Yati was neither animated nor ‘alive’ and so she was for me truly one dimensional and flat. Sorry, Nita Lei, you can and should have done a better job!

Best friend and business partner to Fang Zhangcheng, character Shen Wei-Lian was played by William Liao. This is my first exposure to this actor but having read up a little about him since then I think I may have to keep my eyes out for other productions he has starred in. He did a great job with this tdrama. I found that Shen Wei-Lian’s character brought a touch of humour and stability to the story.

oh! … sidekicks

Chen Yuxi’s mother, Wang Yu-Zhen was played by amazing Miao Ke-li. I so enjoyed this woman’s performance. She carried her side-story well and gave a truly endearing and heartfelt display as a mother to two adopted children. I enjoyed watching her deliver sage advice to various characters throughout, always tempered with kindness. It was a great performance!

Chen Yuxi’s adopted brother, Chen Yu-an was played by the adorable Xu Hao-Xuan. I really got a kick out of this character. I loved Xu Hao-Xuan’s very honest interpretation of a clueless and possibly socially awkward young man. It was hilarious and entertaining and so much fun!

oh! … that’s a wrap

I will surely watch this production again when I’m in need of a feel good production. The story is simple and even while it’s packed full of drama clichés, it is still an endearing tale of love. There’s a lot of little wisdom to learn from this production when it comes to love and how we make our own way through it in the various relationships we live day-to-day.

You’ll appreciate this tdrama if you are a Kingone Wang fan or even a Lorene Ren fan or if you enjoy a good, but simple, love story with all the possible clichés you can find.

oh! … soundtrack

oh! … gallery

oh! … trailer

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