Film Review: The Beauty Inside (South Korea, 2015)

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The Beauty Inside is a beautiful debut movie from director Baek Jong-Yul that despite the fictional story line that it bears, it still holds contact with the realistic side of life. The movie won Best New Director on the 52nd Daejong Film Awards and Best Editing on the 36th Blue Dragon Film Awards.

“I was used to this. My condition. I was fine with it. But since i met you, it became awkward and painful. I wanted to meet you and talk to you. I missed you. ”

Using the main character’s voice, it tells a story of guy name Kim Woo Jin (Park Seo Joon, Lee Jin Wook, Park Shin Hye, Seo Kang Joon, Juri Ueno, Lee Dong Wook, etc.) who turns into a different person every time he sleeps. A man, woman, old lady, child, foreigner, you name it all. The movie starts by showing a flashback for when it all first started, just like his father he inherited the same gift. With only his mother and best friend Sang Baek (Lee Dong Hwi) knowing the truth, Woo Jin live as a furniture maker in the shadow. It all changes when he met Hong Yi Soo (Han Hyo Joo) and decided to strive for their relationship despite all odds. The road to happiness was nothing smooth, despite the frustration and tears Woo Jin always tries to find his way back to Yi Soo, but how long will such love last?

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The flashback was beautifully depicted with a black and white color, from the first terror he encountered and how life was so miserable and lonely. But then as his persistent best friend Sang Beck who keeps coming to look for Woo Jin came, he finally decides to reveal the secret. Having his friend by his side, the visual slowly becomes a bit more vibrant with colors, which i think depicted his state then.

The moment Woo Jin met Yi Soo the pace of the movie becomes slow, however the way they started to fall for each other, at least from Yi Soo side seems a bit too fast and unrealistic. She met him for the first time and agrees to be taken to an unknown place for dinner with a stranger who constantly talking about nonsense (in this sense since it’s Woo Jin first time asking a girl out, it might seems natural for him to be awkward and random). From then on their relation grows quite fast and it all stops when Yi Soo finds out about the truth. The story takes time as Yi Soo tries to understand the whole situation. It then sets off again when their relation starts to bloom.

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“I’ll find you before you find me” that’s what Woo Jin promised Yi Soo. Woo Jin finds the comfort that he’s been longing in Yi Soo, he himself seeing a future with the love of his life. However he never realises how it’s a burden for her, seeing a stranger everyday, bearing the rumors around, he’s being selfish and not understanding what he put her through. As realistic as this movie can be, both side have their own struggle and striving. Yi Soo pushing aside her problem and trying to hold on to the unrealistic relation, while Woo Jin who delusion himself in such relation wasn’t concentrating enough to his work anymore.

The highest peak of the movie was when they spend a night together, it’s the peak of their relation as well as the turning point of the story. “Are you okay being with him? It must be hard on you” a question that Yi Soo never really ask to herself. The movie is simple yet it tells the story of a complicated love, it’s a warm movie that gives laugh and tears at the same time. I would personally praise director Baek Jong Yul for creating such delicate and beautifully composed movie, it is definitely a struggle to keep such fictional storyline back to the realistic ground. And i would say the movie is such an interesting depiction against what Korea is today, that beauty is not always what’s on the outside.

Interestingly, the movie was based on American social film The Beauty Inside directed by Drake Doremus. The movie presented by Intel and Toshiba snatched a few awards under their belt. Several scenes and script lines were used exactly the same. However one distinct thing that you can tell is how Asian and Western countries have such different cultures. In the American version, Alex (Woo Jin) and Lia (Yi Soo) action and conversation was rather very straight forward compared to the Korean version. In this sense it made the story becomes rushed and bland whereas the Korean version was very delicately piece together making the viewers drawn into their love and pain (but this makes sense since the American version is only 30 minutes compared to the Korean one which is 2 hours long). The American version also ended way earlier than the Korean version, the unrealistic ending of Alex and Lia made the movie ‘too fairytale’ to be true.

“I love the Kim Woo Jin inside, right here” – The Beauty Inside is a beautifully crafted movie that is more than meets the eyes, it holds a moral for the Korean society today and other who watch it.

Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Check out the trailer to The Beauty Inside: