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The Beauty Inside - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Byoo-tee in-sai-deu

South Korea 2015

Genre:
Romance, Drama

Director:
Baek Jong-yeol

Cast:
Han Hyo-joo
Lee Dong-hwi
Kim Dae-myeong
Do Ji-han
Bae Seong-woo
Park Shin-hye
Lee Beom-soo
Park Seo-joon
Kim Sang-ho
Cheon Woo-hee
Juri Ueno
Lee Jae-joon
Kim Min-jae
Lee Hyun-woo
Jo Dal-hwan
Lee Jin-wook
Hong Da-mi
Seo Kang-joon
Ko Ah-seong
Kim Joo-hyeok
Yoo Yeon-seok
Mun Suk


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The Beauty Inside

The Beauty Inside - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Every day since his 18th birthday Woo-jin wakes up with a different body. After he got over the initial shock he tries to lead a life that bears comparison to a normal course of life. However, since he sometimes also wakes up as a woman or an old man he has to be prepared for everything at his home. Accordingly, he has a well-sorted wardrobe and also different kinds of beauty products. Of course, he can't go to work like any other man, but as a designer for furniture he still managed to make a name for himself since he makes individual wood furniture at home. The only friend he has, Sang-baek (Lee Dong-hwi), helps him with sales and distribution as well. But one day he sees the girl Yi-soo (Han Hyo-joo) at a luxury shop for furniture. He instantly falls in love with her, but because of his condition he can't engage in a romantic relationship. Still, at some point he musters up all his courage and approaches her. As long as he doesn't fall asleep he keeps the same face, after all. Nevertheless, she will find out about his condition eventually and he doesn't know how she will react to it...

The Beauty Inside - Film Screenshot 2 The Beauty Inside - Film Screenshot 3
The Beauty Inside - Film Screenshot 4

Review: "The Beauty Inside" has an extremely interesting premise as a fundament, which can raise a few philosophical questions and even serve as a starting point for a bit of social criticism. Apart from that the story also seems to be a good hook for a romantic story with that little bit of something. So why doesn't the film work out the way it should? Of course it may be difficult with 123 actors involved portraying the same person to get emotionally attached to the main character, although he actually is just embodied by 21 actors for a longer period of time. But strangely enough there aren't any real problems regarding that aspect. It's rather the lack of focus in the story that deprives the movie of its potential. There are many faces and subjects that could have been tackled, but there isn't a single red thread running through things that we can make out.

The Beauty Inside - Film Screenshot 5

At first, the plot really manages to excite. However, it needs to be added that the idea to the film is taken from the six-episode movie by Intel and Thoshiba from the year 2012 that has been published through social network sites and featured Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the lead role. There are countless odd situations coming to mind that could serve as comedic as well as rather dramatic scenes. "The Beauty Inside" also features some of them, but in the end just manages to scratch the surface. Because in its core the film remains a simple romantic flick. That in itself wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, but then the focus should have sticked more to the love story. Instead there are constantly small paths that lead away from it, even though the romantic relationship appears to be in the foreground.

The Beauty Inside - Film Screenshot 6

Naturally, there are countless questions popping up, but you should as soon as possible come to terms with the fact that the film has a very fantasy-loaden starting point and that you shouldn't be looking for any kind of logic here. Therefore, you shouldn't question that Woo-jin is a handsome Korean guy most of the time instead of more frequently being an old lady or a Western guy or anything like that. Although there apparently seem to be a few rules, after all Woo-jin's appearance seems to be tied to his surroundings. In the Czech Republic he is way more often a Western guy. Moreover, he oftentimes seems to be a woman when something emotionally afflicts him a lot. Those are interesting aspects which then again soon fall by the wayside since Yi-soo never goes out with a woman or an old man. It's always a goodlooking guy. Here, the movie could have dared a bit more in order to also raise some more unpleasant questions.

The Beauty Inside - Film Screenshot 7

In the end, it's pretty obvious, of course, that "The Beauty Inside", as the title already hints at, deals with the topic whether you can really just judge somebody by his inner values or if love isn't simply always linked to the other one's appearance as well. Woo-jin is very restricted in what he can do in his everyday life, as you can imagine. He can't travel, make new friends etc. But isn't Yi-soo a victim of Woo-jin's selfishness and his desire for a long-term relationship? She somewhat is and this is even hinted at, but it isn't dealt with in detail. As is the case with Yi-soo's mental suffering since she is always seen with a "new" man at her side. The different pieces are there, they are just put together heavy-handedly and don't get the time on screen they deserve. Which is why you ask yourself why they have been intregrated to begin with?

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This question especially comes up because "The Beauty Inside" ultimately wants to mainly be a love story. The several actors depicting Woo-jin, from Yoo Yeon-seok ("Whistle Blower"), Park Shin-hye ("The Royal Tailor") to Cheon Woo-hee ("Han Gong-ju") and even Ko Ah-seong ("Snowpiercer") as well as Juri Ueno ("Swing Girls"), constantly give the character new facets, but he somehow also remains the same as well, which counts among the positive things to note. Serving as an achor that keeps things steady is Han Hyo-joo ("Masquerade", "Cold Eyes") whose relationship with Woo-jin somehow works out despite the lack of focus concerning an emphasis on certain story aspects. But even the in technical respects very neatly composed pictures and the nice soundtrack can't do anything about "The Beauty Inside" being a disappointment. In the end, the many aspects of the story are merely touched upon and the love story itself doesn't stand as anything extraordinary, which at the latest becomes obvious when the romantic plot is shifted to an European city, just in line with Korean romanticization...

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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