New BL drama on Netflix “Wish You: Your Melody from My Heart” is off-key

Netflix categorises the clumsily named Korean Boys’ Love (BL) film “Wish You: Your Melody from My Heart” as “understated.” That’s for sure. While it’s encouraging to see the Korean entertainment industry jump on the BL bandwagon, it will have to turn up the heat if it wants us to keep coming back for more.

A film as tentative as this doesn’t stand up to the ever-improving global competition. Originally presented as eight short episodes, “Wish You” has been edited into a feature film for Netflix with the addition of a few previously unseen scenes.

We start on the streets of Seoul, where 24-year-old singer/guitarist Kang In Soo (Kang In Soo, from the K-pop group MYNAME), is hard at work busking, not as much for money as for personal pride. His best friend dutifully records his performances and posts them to YouTube.

Enter Yoon Sang Yi (Lee Sang, from the K-pop group Imfact), also 24, who has a love-at-first-sight moment when he catches a glimpse of In Soo. Luckily, he’s a rookie entertainment company producer and keyboardist. He brings In Soo to the attention of his colleagues who, with breathtaking speed, recruit In Soo, sign him to a contract, and appoint Sang Yi as his personal minder… and housemate.

At this point, the movie still has 85 minutes to go, but not much else happens. It’s a slow burn for the couple. A very slow burn. When Sang Yi runs into the shirtless In Soo coming out of the shower, he ogles him up and down slack jawed until In Soo says, “Are you a pervert?” That’s a signal that the inevitable first kiss—one of only two in the movie—is still an hour away.

In the meantime, there are some creative differences and a “family secret” that In Soo is hiding, but the story’s slow forward motion is driven mainly by corny montages of the couple collaborating on music, eating, and walking around town. They do briefly hold hands, which is something. Neither the word “gay” nor “boyfriend” is ever uttered.

Some online commenters have said they appreciate the fact that the story of Sang Yi and In Soo is told without the usual melodramatic crises, tears, family disapproval, and misunderstandings that sometimes sink BL dramas. True enough, the matter-of-factness of “Wish You” and the ease with which everyone around the two young men accepts their burgeoning relationship is nice to see.

Nevertheless, a movie, any movie, has to offer a story that keep viewers engaged throughout. When the title song is better than the screenplay, it’s time for a rewrite.

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