[REVIEW]: Moonlight Drawn by Clouds

I’m here to talk about one of my favorite dramas these days: Moonlight Drawn by Clouds or Love in the Moonlight! I actually never payed much attention to the articles when this drama was first announced, and originally had no intention of watching it while it aired. I’m very familiar with Kim Yoojung, but this was my first encounter with Park Bo Gum. There were such high ratings for this drama that I decided to start watching just in time to keep up with it. I’m so glad I did and I can’t believe it’s already over. Here are my final thoughts.


Positives:

Solid Cast: Honestly, the cast in this drama were simply amazing. I’m quite picky, so it’s extremely hard for me to find dramas where the entire cast is evenly talented. There’s always a few holes in the bunch, but thankfully that did not reign true for this drama. Many idols-turned-actors have infested dramas with lackluster acting, but Jinyoung was able to crush the stereotype in this particular instance. As I mentioned this was my first Park Bo Gum experience, but he was absolutely captivating; his snarky, smirky, strong-willed Crown Prince was absolutely lovable. I loved how he was easygoing, but at the same time had a passion to do what was right. Kim Yoojung is practically a saguek veteran and it showed in the delivery of her role. I’ve found past versions of this role incredibly painful to sit through, (ex. Park Minyoung—Sungkyunkwan Scandal) but that was not the case here. And let’s not leave out Kwak Dong Yeon, who was totally endearing as the devoted and charming Byung Yeon.

Beautiful Soundtrack: I’ve said this time and time again but music can make or break a drama and kill the most important of moments. Moonlight was very smart about their use of music, and thankfully all of the songs were well matched with the feel and vibe of the drama. Nothing was jarring, and every piece of music used fit the respective scene perfectly. My favorite OST would have to be Beige’s ‘I Miss You’. It was an absolutely stunning piece, and was haunting, yet breathtaking when they played it during Ra On’s rain dance scene.

Amazing Cinematography and Respectable Editing: Speaking of the rain dance scene, can we talk about how exquisitely that moment was filmed? I literally had goosebumps when Ra On appeared so beautifully dressed, and began to elegantly execute the dance for the CP. Her facial expressions were so important in that scene, and Yoojung was able to convey such deep emotion. Aside from beautiful moments like this one, I was really grateful that there weren’t any choppy or poorly focused scenes. There’s a certain drama currently airing that has a frequent use of uncomfortable close up shots and it really destroys the flow and often sacrifices important details of the scene in the process (*cough* Scarlet Heart: Ryeo *cough*). Moonlight didn’t have any of these, so I was able to breathe contently. The content was also presented in a logical order without any nonsensical scenes thrown in between or added for unnecessary purposes. I felt like there was a sequential flow to everything and that every scene served a purpose.

Decent Script Writing: I say decent because there were no major script disasters. However, towards the latter half of the drama, I did struggle a bit. I think it was around episodes 13 and 14 that I threw up my hands and asked…”okay we’re crying and moping….but why don’t we actually do something to resolve this situation?” Those episodes in particular seemed to drag on because there seemed to be a sudden halt or stall in the pro-activeness and motivation of our two leads. I wanted to slap them so they could snap out of it and get back to their mission. Honestly those episodes were a bit drawn out and a step backwards from the progress the drama had made up until that point, but I’m willing to forgive this blunder since, for the most part, the drama was stable captivating. I like that they had comedic elements, but then moved toward a more darker narrative. I wasn’t sure what I’d signed up for when I began watching, and wouldn’t have been surprised if the drama had remained total fluff from start to finish, but I appreciated that they added the layers of suspense and angst, along with a mission to uncover the corruption in the palace and restore it’s balance.

Mostly Happy Ending: A lot of dramas I watch either end horribly, tragically or both. Moonlight gave us a pretty joyous ending despite Yoon Sung’s death. We see the Crown Prince uncover the mystery behind his mother’s death, his transition into a King for the people, Byung Yeon’s return as Young’s confidant and trusted bodyguard (new hairstyle included), Ha Yeon’s resignation of her Princess title and ability to potentially find love in the future, Princess Myungeun’s engagement to our favorite scholar, punishment of the corrupt palace ministers and Queen Kim, the promotion of our favorite eunuchs…especially the jovial eunuch Jang, Mentor Yak Young’s return to the palace, and finally, the peaceful reunification of Young and Ra On.


Negatives:

Occasional lags or stalls in the plot: As I mentioned above, the latter half of the drama did suffer the casual pause in progress and action. Consequently, some of these episodes left something to be desired, especially when we started to get a multitude of crying Ra On and sulky Young scenes. I feel like they dragged these parts out a bit and left little time to work out the actual climax.

A tragic and …unnecessary character death: Some people might not agree with me, but I really didn’t approve of Yoon Sung’s death. I don’t think they had to kill him off, but I think they felt the need to do so because they thought letting everyone live wouldn’t have been a realistic resolution to all this dramatic build up. I also believe they chose Yoon Sung, since he wasn’t Ra On’s love interest and his relationship with the CP wasn’t as strong as the bond shared between Byung Yeon and the Crown Prince. They might have thought losing him would hurt the least, but it hurt me just as much as the thought of losing Byung Yeon or the Crown Prince.

Rushed problem resolution: Going off things mentioned above, I felt the conflict resolution and ultimate end was quite rushed compared to the copious amounts of time we spent building up to this  final confrontation. Literally everything was wrapped up in the final episode and then we flash forward with a time jump to see everyone living happily ever after. I was a bit shocked and expected them to spend at least two to three episodes unraveling the secrets and corruption of the palace. I felt like we didn’t get to see much of the justice being served. It was more like we were told the real criminals were punished and that was it. I might have said this before but I really wanted to see Byung Yeon, Ra On and Young interacting again in one last final scene, but unfortunately we didn’t get this.

Ha Yeon, the wasted sacrificial lamb: Okay I need to bring this up because this was lowkey atrocious. Poor Ha Yeon, who I initially thought I’d hate, ended up being one of the characters I pitied the most. They could have made her a vindictive bitch who sought to hurt Ra On and work against the Crown Prince for revenge, but they made her the complete opposite. Ha Yeon basically devoted her life to helping the Crown Prince, knowing that he would never love her back, or treat her differently for it. Even when she finds out about Ra On, she doesn’t become angry or vengeful, but instead sad and more understanding of how her current position of Crown Princess might be hurting Young rather than helping him. It’s obvious that she truly cared for his well-being, and this is most evident when she decides to relieve herself of her duties as the Crown Princess. The King warns that she will still be unable to marry despite giving up her title, but Ha Yeon insists that this is the right thing to do. Thankfully, the King shows that he actually isn’t insane after all, and decides to erase evidence of Ha Yeon’s previous Crown Princess status so that she can potentially marry and find happiness in the future. I’m really glad that this happens, but at the same time I can’t help but feel Ha Yeon’s character was only a plot device employed to cause ‘fake conflict and anxiety’ about Ra On’s relationship with the Crown Prince. Other than playing this role, she doesn’t have much other use, and is basically disposed of in the end so that Ra On and Young can have their happy ending.

Prime Minister Kim and suicide: I never thought I would say this, but I actually felt a bit empathetic toward Prime Minister Kim at the end of the drama. Yes, he was foul. Yes, he was disgusting. Yes, he was willing to bulldoze over anyone and anything that hindered his plans. However, the final scene where he reflects on his grandson shows you his human side. Prime Minister Kim wasn’t searching to secure power for himself, his goal was to put his grandson, whom he loved dearly, into the position of power. He thought he was doing something honorable for his grandson. We all know this wasn’t an honorable mission, and that his ways of going about that mission were even less chivalrous, but we can at least acknowledge the fact  that in his own eyes, he thought he was pursuing a worthy ambition. I couldn’t help but feel pain for him when reviewed the flashbacks of his grandson, who was fated to die young. I am a little miffed by the fact that he commits suicide because he wheedles out of his intended punishment, but at the same time I feel like this was the ultimate punishment for Prime Minister Kim. Losing his grandson, and then killing himself in his grandson’s room with his grandson’s gun is honestly so tragic and symbolic of everything he fought for, and the unfortunate consequences that result from his own cruel methods of trying to achieve such a goal. Yea, he was a horrible asshole, but he definitely received a grievous punishment in the end.


Notable Characters:

Kim Byung Yeon (A.K.A. Kim Hyung): I thought Kwak Dong Yeon did an excellent job capturing this struggle, pain, and brooding emotion of his character. I’d never heard of him before this drama, but he was fantastic. I hope to see him appear in other dramas in the future!

I don’t remember the last time I loved a supporting character as much as I loved Byung Yeon. MDBC had me sweating at the beginning of episode 17 when he almost died. They totally trolled me because one minute I was breathing a sigh of relief for Byung Yeon, in the next I was dry heaving out of fear for the poisoned Crowned Prince, and just when I thought everything was finally going to be okay, they drag Yoon Sung into the underworld. I was really hoping they’d work out a way to let all three members of the broship survive, but alas, they couldn’t. Although Byung Yeon was shy and quiet most of the time, he was always sincere, and you could see how conflicted he was between his duties to CP Young and the Head Eunuch. He constantly showed up at the right time in many key moments to come to both Young and Ra On’s rescue and I loved when he went to Yoon Sung at one point to help Ra On safely escape the palace. In the end, Byung Yeon stayed true to his friendship with Young, and was willing to sacrifice himself in order to save both Young and Ra On. I’m so relieved he didn’t die, but damn he really scared me there for a moment. That ‘almost death’ scene had me in tears, especially with the way he smiled at Young when he said he wouldn’t be able to obey the order not to put down his sword. Some moments I absolutely loved were during his injury recovery. He wasn’t awake yet and Ra On was asking him what the palace looked like when it snowed. He suddenly remarks, “it’s beautiful” and proceeds to smile at her as she breathes a sigh of relief through her tears. Later on when Ra On is asleep, he comments that he will definitely return to both her and Young one day when things have settled down, and looks at her fondly before taking off. Finally, I was happy to see him watching over Young in one of the last scenes of the drama, and it looks like he’s sporting a new look too. Honestly, I wished for a scene where the three were reunited, like the earlier scene when they drank together and Ra On still wasn’t aware of the Crown Prince’s identity but I guess I’ll take what I can get.

Kim Yoon Sung: Major props to B1A4’s Jinyoung, who I didn’t even know acted in the first place. He put a lot of actors to shame with his spot on performance, because I’m telling you right now that he nailed this role. I thought he portrayed Yoon Sung, with such silent strength, elegance, and chivalry and he definitely did the character justice. I found myself loving Yoon Sung just as much as the Crown Prince, and at times…even more so.

Yoon Sung was witty, endearing, badass, and noble all swooped up into one. It was literally impossible to dislike him, and at several moments I found myself rooting for him over the CP and hoping Ra On would choose him too. Despite the fact that Ra On chooses Crown Prince Young over him, Yoon Sung continues to support Young and Ra On, always there to assist them in times of danger. Not to mention Yoon Sung put himself at risk in a lot of these situations. Unfortunately, he really got the raw end of the deal here. His death was not only tragic because we were losing a noble hero, but also because he doesn’t benefit or gain anything from all of those efforts he made. He basically gives his life for Ra On and CP Young, and he will never get to live to see the fruits of his labor. He dies being friend zoned which is also sad.  Obviously, I understand that Ra On couldn’t change her feelings, but it’s still so sad that he had to die knowing she never loved him that way. In the end, I guess in his heart he wouldn’t have wanted to die any other way. Dying to protect the one he loved and his best friend was basically the ultimate and worthy sacrifice in his own eyes.


In the end, I really really enjoyed this drama and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for something to watch. It’s one of the better sageuks I’ve encountered, especially in terms of the whole “female disguised as a male” plot. Flaws aside, I think the acting, cinematography, and compelling plot are enough to make this drama worth the watch, even if sagueks aren’t your thing.

Rating: 8.5/10

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