Apple TV + launches its very first South Korean series titled Dr. Brain, written, directed and produced by Kim Jee-woon. The filmmaker to whom we owe in particular I met the devil succeeded in his foray into television with this fantastic thriller?
WHAT IS IT ABOUT ?
A neuroscientist is on the lookout for new technologies to better understand human consciousness. His life is turned upside down when his family is the victim of a mysterious accident. He then uses his skills to access memories in his wife’s brain in order to piece together the mystery of what really happened to his family and why.
Dr. Brain has aired on Apple TV + one episode per week since November 4th. Episodes seen: 6/6.
WELL WORTH A LOOK ?
If the Squid Game phenomenon has made you want to take a closer look at South Korean fiction in all it has to offer, then you should indulge yourself in Dr. Brain. This adaptation of Hongjacga’s eponymous webtoon is Apple TV + ‘s first Korean-language series, which the platform is broadcasting at the same time as its launch in the country.
The director Kim Jee-woon, to whom we owe Two sisters, A Bittersweet Life and I met the devil, had already tried to stage this project but it was not until May 2019 that he can launch the production of the series with YG Studioplex, which was then taken over by Apple in March 2021. Considered one of the symbols of the new South Korean cinema, Kim Jee-woon takes with Dr. Brain the bet to sign his very first series.
Consisting of six episodes, Dr. Brain recounts Sewon, a neurosurgeon’s extraordinary investigation into the mysterious accident that affected his family. Misunderstood and associable genius, this man will use his brilliant skills to develop cerebral synchronizations and access the memories of his wife but also the memory of the dead in order to decipher the truth.
In the brains of the dead
Blending dark thriller and paranormal investigation, Dr. Brain can count on the paw of Kim Jee-woon, who writes, directs and produces, to plunge us into a universe as distressing as it is fascinating. From the prologue, and a brutal event, the series sets the tone for what will be a downward spiral for Sewon, who by advancing science has awakened an almost demonic part of the subconscious.
Do we really need to know everything about the capabilities of the human brain? Any truth, even if it is snatched from the dead, is it good to know? So many questions that the protagonist will ask himself despite his deep convictions and his thirst for knowledge. To play Sewon, Lee Sun-kyun, Hong Sang-soo’s favorite actor and performer of Mr. Park in Bong Joo-ho’s Parasite, was chosen.
The actor delivers a compelling, no-frills performance. Very involved in the role, Lee Sun-kyun offers real nuances in his playing despite the initial lack of emotions of his character. The rest of the cast is also impeccable, especially Park Hee-Soon, who we recently saw on the My Name series.
The other strong point of the series lies in its aesthetics and in its scenes of illusions, appearances of the dead and hallucinations. The director tries things out and offers scary, funny, psychedelic, even epileptic horror sequences. He plays with genres, colors, lights and offers a palette of traumatic branches and surprising twists as Sewon explores the twists and turns of his brain.
If Dr. Brain charms with its original form, its cast and its breathtaking plot, we remain less convinced by the dramatic sequences and flashbacks on Sewon’s family, which denote with the rest of the series. The Apple TV + series is worth for its immersion in a fantastic parallel world, its agonizing atmosphere and its daring artistic bias.