What happens when a woman born with a built-in lie detector meets a man who no one believes is telling the truth? My Lovely Liar, amidst its fusion of plots juggling fantasy, murder mystery, and romance, stays sweet and intriguing throughout by showcasing the growth of the two main protagonists and their romantic relationship.
This review contains spoilers.
Mok Sol-hee (Kim So-hyun), was born with the ability to tell when people are lying or not. As an adult, she is the owner of a tarot card cafe which serves as a front for her Liar Hunter busidness where she harnesses her ability to help customers sniff out lies. She and her employees keep to themselves in their otherwise tight knit community. Enter Kim Do-ha (Hwang Min-hyun), a famous music composer and producer whose real identity is a secret because of his suspected involvement in the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend.
My Lovely Liar, due to its very premise, already has a lot to unpack and explore. However, the drama manages to keep a strong pace while balancing its multiple plot points. Indeed, from the very first episode, the drama shows Sol-hee and Do-ha’s fated first meeting in the past, and it also clearly explains Sol-hee’s lie detecting ability. When people tell the truth, Sol-hee hears a clear ringing sound, and when they lie, she hears a loud ding. Equal parts an ability and a nuisance, Sol-hee is unable to turn her ability off. The audience is privy to her lie detecting ability via these sound effects. In particular, they can be heard when Sol-hee’s perspective is being emphasized. On the other hand, they are sometimes withheld in more pivotal and suspenseful situations to keep the audience guessing as to what the truth is.
The first half of the drama develops Do-ha and Sol-hee’s backgrounds in detail, and the consequences that they face as a result of choosing to seclude themselves. Do-ha refuses to show his face in public, and he lives life as a recluse despite the nature and success of his job. Similarly to Do-ha, Sol-hee has few friends, and she rarely interacts with the otherwise close-knit community that she lives in. While no one can get close enough to harm them or hurt their feelings, they lead incredibly lonely lives.
Aside from leading lonely lifestyles, they are both huge soccer fans and have difficult relationships with their mothers. They share passions, can empathize with each other, but most importantly they find in each other what they crave the most: unconditional acceptance. Sol-hee assures Do-ha that his ex’s disappearance is not his fault, and Do-ha accepts Sol-hee’s ability without any hesitation or doubt. Sol-hee and Do-ha clearly have each other’s best interests at heart, and Kim So-hyun and Min-hyun’s ability to play their characters with sincerity ensure that Sol-hee and Do-ha make a convincing couple.
The most evident change that they experience is that they both start to open up to those around them. As Do-ha moves in next door to Sol-hee and they become neighbours, the beginning of their relationship is established as they slowly pull each other out into the world. The close community they live in is represented in the drama by a trio of store owners, So Bo-ro (Cho Jin-se), Oh O-baek (Kim Won-hun), and Hwang Cho-rok (Eom Ji-yoon), who provide comic relief. The friendship between the three provides contrast to Sol-hee and Do-ha’s relatively barren social lives, and is also a nice foreshadowing of how Sol-hee and Do-ha’s relationship with each other and their community will evolve.
These changes occur slowly and naturally; Do-ha starts to leave his home without a mask, and Sol-hee starts to engage with the store owners. Indeed, both Do-ha and Sol-hee have their own opportunities for growth throughout the drama, and each time they are always each other’s biggest supporters. Such sweet moments in My Lovely Liar balance out the more serious murder mystery element, which ramps up in the latter half of the drama.
Even when Do-ha is thrown under the spotlight again for his potential role in his ex’s disappearance, Sol-hee stands by Do-ha. The drama never leads us to question if there is a happy ending in store for the two protagonists. Instead, My Lovely Liar insists on a flawlessly happy ending for the couple. While it may be well deserved for what the two of them have experienced as individuals and as a couple, sometimes the drama feels preoccupied with ensuring their maximal happiness at the expense of staying relevant. For example, Sol-hee’s divorced parents getting back together in the final episode seemed random and unnecessary, and it felt thrown in for the sake of a happy ending for all aspects of Sol-hee’s life. It was out of place in comparison to the other characters and their struggles and accomplishments that were given adequate attention and detail in the rest of the drama.
While no drama is perfect, My Lovely Liar stays grounded despite its multiple storylines and genres by focusing on the development of the two protagonists and their relationship with each other. Overall sweet and engaging throughout its run, My Lovely Liar is well executed and is a great addition to the romance and murder mystery fusion genre.
(images via tvN)