I really ought to stop complaining about Lovesick Season 2 as we’ve reached episode 8 already and I’m slowly turning this blog into a complaint/rant jar. However, it’s just like when I’m deeply infatuated with somebody: I get hypersensitive and I can’t stop writing about them. It’s exhausting and time-consuming, but since I don’t have anyone else to share about my extensive opinions on LS (I have friends of course, but it’s just different in writing), I’ll use my personal space and abuse it.
So for dear readers who followed me for the quotes that I intended this blog for, please bear with me. Thank you.
Here we go.
I’ve complained about this new season’s awkward camera shots in my first post about Lovesick the Series. Actually, it was the first difference I noticed from this season’s to the previous one. The zoomed in faces of the characters, even when the scene is not emotionally heavy, was just…uncomfortable to watch. It still is. I’m not watching the show just to admire the milky smooth skin of Captain, or just to stare at White’s eyes. They’re too close for comfort and a bit invasive.
I thought I’ve grown accustomed to this style, but episode 8 resurfaced this issue. I’ve finally realized why these camera shots are giving me a headache and what I really want to achieve from these rants.
I’ve noticed that since most of the emotional scenes of LS season 2 (LS S02) closes up on the faces of the characters, the body lacks from the frame. In acting, more than dialogue and facial expressions, body language says a lot to relay or put emphasis on the emotion of a character at a certain moment. Most of the time when we react strongly about something, it becomes obvious on our faces, particularly our eyebrows, eyes, and mouth reveal that. The reaction around these areas are easily noticed since our face are our identities, and people tend to focus on it. On the other hand, a lot of writers would highlight character reactions to a situation through describing the hands, the workings of our feet, shoulders, etc. because the body is just as good as the face in exposing human emotions and storytelling.
While watching the latter part of episode 8 when Noh was apologizing to Phun for being caught talking smack about Aim, I realized–because of the close up shot–that I don’t see Noh flinching, or doing something with his hand to unease himself. I mean, he was apologizing for something he might be ashamed about, so can he just stay still? Even a shift in his seat when he was basically putting himself on a hot seat by opening the topic to Phun? As a result, I just couldn’t connect to the emotion of the scene. The tie between Phun and Noh had become more brittle because of that incident, but the atmosphere didn’t really make me believe that. They’re just…there, in a car, talking.
By the way, I have no idea how the story will flow from here in the series. In the novel, Phun was oblivious to what Noh knew about Aim until the time he watched the video, but now there’s that scene. Would Phun take it as Noh’s jealousy or would he finally get suspicious and investigate? If Phun’s smile at the end means letting Noh off the hook because Noh admitted that he was on his mind, well. I might sprout another blog post for that (that quote before the credits, I feel, was trying to justify it). In my reading, Noh’s character wouldn’t say something this forward to Phun, even if he means it. He’s quite awkward with his words, but can be sincere when he feels driven in a corner.
On the contrary, body language has not been absent this episode entirely. YEY! Evidence:
Definitely, the long shot (character with surrounding in frame) and mid shots (character waist up in frame) provides more of these body language shots than the close-ups.
Two shots, long shots, over the shoulder…ah you get me.
The new season of Lovesick introduced new pairings like Om/Mick, Per/Win, and Earn/Pete. Though the Earn/Pete pairing had been a talk of the town and a seed of fantasy for fangirls, especially those that are concerned with Earn’s happiness since the previous season, I think there would be more exposure of the pair this season (I’m actually rooting for these two just because Pete is so adorable, what the heck!).
With the introduction of new pairings, it’s important to establish their onscreen chemistry. How is it done? I’m not sure exactly. However, as a viewer, the chemistry between characters (not limited to a potential couple) through constant exposure on-screen together, and I mean in the same frame, would establish that. I need to see how the characters jive with each other through their body language, as well as how they converse or interact.
With the constant close-up of character faces, the feel of a conversation scene becomes awkward. For example in S02x08 when Phun and Yuri were having a talk about Aim and Noh, even when Yuri was talking, it focused a lot on Phun’s face listening to Yuri. The side-view shot made it seem like Phun was thinking of something else while pretending to listen to Yu.
Actually, I’m not sure if White is uncomfortable looking at people in the eyes when he’s having a conversation, or it’s just that it was an awkward situation supposedly because he does this a lot. Anyway, that scene seemed detached of what a conversation is like. If I were a spectator watching them talk and then I’m just staring at Phun’s face while Yuri is sharing something, there’s a tendency I shut out what Yuri is saying because I’m gonna be focusing on the guy’s face.
The absence of another person’s face in the frame of a two-way conversation scene creates an isolation effect. I don’t mean for this method to be ineffective the whole time for a conversation scene, but as I’ve mentioned before, I find it more suitable for heavy drama scenes like in LS S01x08 with Phun and Noh’s confession.
If they put Phun and Yuri in the same frame (two-shot), it would have been better to observe body language of the two as they talk. Yuri and Phun aren’t really close to each other. Familiar, yes, but before Hua Hin, have they actually been hanging out and talking? We have no idea because that was never shown or implied. Phun hang outs with the Aim’s convent gang, yes, but I think there would be other girls his character would jive better with. So I think there would be some awkwardness between the two in this scene, especially since they’re both dancing around a subject they don’t want to disclose to each other. The body language would have been very telling of those thoughts and feelings.
The Om/Mick pair also had this kind of close-up shots when Om was teaching Mick with the French horn. They were beside each other on the sofa, so I think a two-shot of them discussing why Mick wanted Om as teacher would have been more effective. We could have seen more body language from both characters, a better establishment of their onscreen chemistry through seeing how good they look together, or just a wider scope of them interacting with each other in their current set-up. Unfortunately, the shots just switched from one character close-up to the other when they talked.
Of course our main couple is not to be missed from this part. The beginning of this episode (with that missing fuck of a bait kiss scene) shows Phun and Noh sleeping together. In the novel, they were supposed to be cuddled together. If my memory serves me right, Phun was positioned against Noh’s chest as they are in embrace, then Noh wakes up. Well, the series had a more innocent version of Noh sleeping on Phun’s arm, probably to have continuity with the last scene of Episode 7, the forehead kiss, and then the cut which I’ve forgiven but not ever forgetting. Though we’re well aware that Phun is the top, should the sleeping position always have to reflect this too? Just saying.
Furthermore, the conversation between Phun and Noh on the bed didn’t have any two-shots and was just switching back and forth with a mix of medium close-up shot and close-up. This was supposed to be a funny and fluffy (if they showed Phun holding Noh tighter when Noh wanted to get up to eat) scene, but then the camera shots just irked me. I mean, Noh’s tummy rumbling like that was funny (I can relate to it!), but yeah. It’s just…there.
On the contrary, Ep08 is not without merits. I thought that Earn/Pete episode was very well done.
Earn and Pete’s part almost seemed like it was cut from the production of LS S01. It was cute, entertaining, and well put-together. The events in this episode for this pair reminded me a lot of Phun and Noh in the beginning of the series, and the early journeys of a ship sailing steadily to fandomland.
Going back, the Yuri-Phun conversation scene was just really uncomfortable for me to watch. Despite the relevance of the scene (really?), I can’t help but notice too much about it. Aside from the close-up shots, I don’t know what they were trying to achieve for the story by having this frame:
Found the difference? Did you notice that the frame moved a bit? Yes it did. If you watch the actual video, it moved slightly to the side and I’m sure it wasn’t for effect. The camera man probably couldn’t steady his hand or something This wasn’t the first time, too. Actually, the problem is, what is with this shot? By having a long shot, what do we see from the characters? It’s Yuri being happy that she’s Noh’s declared girlfriend, Phun standing there like a tree, and a background. Where are they even? The background didn’t help in establishing the setting, the angle is lowered to make them taller (?), and there’s a case of the moving camera. Nothing helped build up atmosphere.
Moreover, even if I love my LS actors, the very focused background to sharpen the subject makes me dizzy. This isn’t only on S02x08, okay? I’ve noticed it since S02x01.
Lessening the blur would probably do our eyes good, especially if it’s an outdoor shot since it makes the picture quite flat.
Now, I’ll be using the same picture earlier, if you don’t mind, to present my next point:
Why is Phun and Yuri positioned this way with space at the side? Visual effect? Perhaps. If this was a photograph and they were looking at the camera in that angle and a clear backdrop, it would have been a nice picture. On the other hand, it’s a scene for a TV show and I don’t get it. There’s a proper nose room, but Yuri is not actually facing that way since she’s talking to Phun and would be constantly looking at his face, right?
Here’s another one:
I’m confused whether it’s a mid-shot of Yuri or a two-shot of the both of them. It’s like Phun just appeared at the side as a photo-bomber with a devious expression, so Yuri’s pulling a stiff face, faintly grunting. There’s also that small space on Yuri’s side which kinda repelled that background of greens and hints of flowers.
In my research about camera shots and visual compositions, there are terms such as headroom (the space between the subject’s head and frame), nose room (extra space to set the direction the subject faces), and lead room (space ahead for moving subjects) which, if not in proper composition, can make the subject in the frame look strange.
Now, let’s look at poor Nong Mick trying his best to get that French horn to play a tune. He’d have to try harder for that horn, but don’t worry, you’re already playing Om, he just doesn’t know it yet. Hihi.
Alright, let’s see some good examples from LS S01x05:
*lights a cigarette*
According to WordPress word count counter, I’ve written over 3000 words, and it’s midnight, so I should shut up now.
Just to clarify, despite these long-assed rants, I still support Lovesick the Series up to it’s last season in the future. I’ve invested too much emotion on this fandom too much to abandon ship. I just really, really wish there would be more considerations on these elements for the TV series too.
As narrative style showcases the voice of a writer for his/her written story, camera work delivers the storytelling in film and television. Technicals is just as important as content. I’ve learned this the hard way through my own works and while learning the ropes of being a teacher for writing.
Comparisons are not good, but it’s really hard to turn away from the bias if you’ve fallen in love with the good first. Well, I wouldn’t fall in love with it in the first place, right? I love the way LS S01 was presented, from the shots to the music, story, and even with the could-be-improved acting, so I can’t help but long for that feeling and expect it from LS S02 even if I know that changes in production staff had been made.
Anyway, to end this entry on a funnier side of LS S02xEp8, here is a pervert Phun wishing you all good night, and may he materialize the next day to give you a…
By the way, for reference of camera shots and angles, please feel free to browse this as I have no more energy to write a glossary. ktnxbye