Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Beauty Inside

When I write these reviews, I usually have a reference page or two open to make sure that I can get which actor played which role correct, or otherwise follow-up to interesting information. Given that the premise of this movie involves someone waking up with a new appearance every day, its IMDB page is hilarious but not exactly helpful. On the other hand, AsianWiki's page was at least kind enough to put these names (and pictures!) in roughly chronological order.

I'd have been useless if I tried to wait even overnight to write the review, though, much less the kind of delay that some of these Fantasia reviews are getting. Still, I do find it kind of interesting how what is pretty much a tidal wave of Korean character actors in this movie made me react, especially once I started looking up names. The people I thought were vaguely familiar often weren't in anything I'd seen before, while clicking through for relatively random people would get me thinking "hey, I loved her in that - why didn't I recognize her?" I think a big part of it is not seeing them out of character very often; without award shows, interviews, and the like, I seldom have familiarity with them outside a certain part unless they're someone I've seen in a lot of movies.

Anyway, that's odd. I liked the movie, though I have to admit that if I were in charge, I'd probably focus on the weird stuff a lot more.

The Beauty Inside

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 12 September 2015 in AMC Boston Common #19 (first-run, DCP)

I remember hearing about "The Beauty Inside", a short webseries produced by various tech companies with some sort of social or interactive content attached, but forgot about it almost immediately. Apparently it made more of an impression on someone in South Korea, resulting in this feature version which isn't bad at all. This version itself has been deemed noteworthy enough to get a fairly quick North American theatrical release. If nothing else, it deserves credit for pulling off a premise that could have sunk it from the start.

That premise is the protean nature of Kim Woo-jin, who has, ever since his eighteenth birthday, been a different person every time he woke up - sometimes old, sometimes young, sometimes male, sometimes female, sometimes not even Korean. He makes his living by building high-quality furniture customized to one's specifications, with childhood friend Sang-baek (Lee Dong-hwi) handling sales. With only Sang-baek and Woo-jin's mother (Moon Sook) knowing his secret, it's a lonely life. Dating is even stranger - when he meets the beautiful Hong E-soo (Han Hyo-joo), he waits until waking up with a handsome face (Park Seo-joon) before asking her out, but his initial plan of never sleeping again is not going to cut it.

The credits list 122 actors as playing Woo-jin, although only a couple dozen are there long enough to make a distinct impression. Interestingly, the fillmmakers use women for a number of noteworthy moments - perhaps to emphasize just how everything in his life is made more difficult by not being his true self - and they don't falter: Both Chung Woo-hee (of Han Gang-ju) and Ko Ah-sung (of Snowpiercer) handle their pivotal scenes with aplomb, while Park Seo-joon and Lee Jin-wook turning the charm up high during their segments, which are tilted more toward romantic comedy. Those four are joined by many others, and that this large group pulls off something approaching a consistent characterization. To a certain extent that's accomplished by allowing the actors to be free to do more than imitate whoever is chosen as the "prime", implying that a bit more than just Woo-jin's appearance changes day to day, although not so much as to lose continuity or change motivation.

Full review on EFC.

No comments: