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Original Title:

South Korea 2008

Noh Hyung-woo

Beautiful - OST

Review: "Beautiful" marks the first time I listened to a soundtrack and only after that watched the movie. The melancholic, at times deeply afflictive nature of the OST even added fuel to the expectations for the film, but even though the picture stands as a bitter disappointment, this doesn't change the fact, that Noh Hyung-woo's contribution to the film - Noh also composed the score to Kim Ki-duk's "Time" - is a pleasant piano soundtrack, that asks for listening every now and then. If you are willing to dive into the depressing atmosphere of the music, you will find a lot that can be called beautiful, something, in respect to the title, we also were lead to expect from the movie.
Nevertheless, it's not really true to speak of a piano soundtrack, as you can also find strings and wind instruments here, even though they are without a doubt elecited from a synthesizer. However, these instruments only support the piano, which stands in the foreground in (almost) every track.

Interestingly enough "You are..." starts with a quite happy melody, even if we are already able to make out the solitariness and isolation within the tunes. The piano plays its motif always accompanied by quiete strings, until it fades into a more tranquil part in the middle, where it becomes apparent that Noh's work is strongly influenced by popular classic music. Here, the song also becomes more melancholic, till the strings work their way into the foreground, where they bring some drama and hope into the track together with some short roll of drums. At the end it fades out with some soft tunes again.
"Eun Young's Theme" is the actual theme of the CD and the motif already sticks with you after the first time. The theme is very sad and is almost paralysing with the loneliness it imparts. At the same time its composition is also beautiful and soon rises to the position of the listener's highlight of the soundtrack. The song can be found in a piano-version on the CD, too, even though the differences are only marginal, as the strings are kept back within the track, anyway, so that they only are put to use in a way that is almost unnoticable.

"Captivated" is like a bad premonition, a short piece, that creates a slightly threatening sound layer with its spherical sounds and the crystal-clear piano tunes standing in contrast to that. "Obssession" (the spelling mistake isn't on my part, but it's the Korean original title) begins with "Eun Young's Theme", but then gets a bit darker and more depressing. Especially towards the end the track once more conveys feelings of disorder and pursuit with its modest piano play, without the song becoming unnecessarily hectic. This also becomes apparent in "Running", which without a doubt brings more dynamic into play with its staccato-like strings, yet always sticks to the calm main mood of the overall work.
"Sung Min's Letter" is maybe the most depressing piece of the CD, which manages perfectly to bring the listener down. Mourning piano sounds lead the way accompanied by strings, until the strings carry on with the dark and low theme after a break.

The short "She admits it" at first sounds similar to "Eun Young's Theme", but shortly thereafter there is a more bright, yet still very depressing motive, which more or less, though, just seems to serve as some kind of transition.
"Please" is one of the hidden highlights. Somehow it reminds me of Mark Snows early work for "The X-Files". There is a spheric sound layer in the background of the song, while the piano plays a tragical theme, which nonetheless, more than any other track on the CD conveys the motive of (unrequited) love and therefore becomes maybe the saddest and at the same time most satisfying song of the soundtrack.
"Destiny" also could have been composed for a horror movie, not because it sounds so creepy, but because you get the impression that a tragical secret is getting revealed (which seems obligative for those movies), which will have an impact on someones life and isolate him from that day on. This isolation is also strengthened by the fact that the song is carried singly by a piano.

"Eun Young Die" is the only track that doesn't feauture a piano. The tragic, mournful and almost despairing motive is played by a violin, that can underline the sadness of the song argueably better than maybe a piano could.
"Ending Credits" at first seems to be identical with "Eun Young's Theme", until after a minute the song makes a turn for a more hopeful motif, carried by strings, which gives the main theme of the soundtrack a nice variation. At the end of the CD you will find "You are..." again, this time as a piano version.
There aren't many themes in "Beautiful". However, those we have are appealing in their melancholy and solitariness. Since the motives are picked up over and over again and get modified, there soon is a recognition-factor for the listener. Because of some repetitions and the short running time "Beautiful" has to live with some deductions in the rating. Nonetheless, this is a soundtrack, that you will most likely listen to often. But careful: You are almost inevitably heading into depression with this one...

Copyright 2008 AsianMovieWeb

Track listing

01. You are...
02. Eun Young's Theme
03. Captivated
04. Obssession
05. Running
06. Sung Min's Letter
07. She admits it
08. Eun Young's Theme
      (Piano Ver.)
09. Please
10. Destiny
11. Eun Young Die
12. Ending Credit
13. You are...
      (Piano Ver.)

Running Time = 26:23

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