The Beauty Inside Blu-ray Review
An elderly man. A foreign woman. A young boy. Different faces, different ages, different genders. And yet they are all Woo-jin.
Every day, furniture designer Woo-jin (Kim Dae-myung, the South Korean TV series MISAENG) wakes up as a different person. He goes by Woo-jin no matter the look, but can legitimately tell a woman at the bar that he is, say, a dentist or a comedian. It’s not a line, it’s just what he is—for the day, at least. Often, he wakes up next to a girl he has a strong desire for, E-soo (Han Hyo-joo, 2013’s COLD EYES), but must sneak out before she realizes that he is, say, an old man. It can be a bit confusing, and even his best friend (Lee Dong-hwi, South Korean network TVN’s REPLY 1988), often asks, “Woo-jin, right?” when entering a room.
He reasons with himself that even the worst flaws he may have for the day—poor eyesight and the like—are only temporary. What isn’t, however, is his desire for E-soo. (One wonders what it would happen if he woke up as her, but the movie never considers exploring that level of paradox.)
Some viewers might find Woo-jin to be something of a creep, seeking out the same woman night after night, and E-soo to be easy, going home with a different man every night. Some might consider the plot to be too humorous for the movie to be anything but a comedy. But as the movie goes on, it reveals itself as rather sweet and never really feels as silly as it sounds. So, is the movie a romance or a sci-fi or what? It rests somewhere in the middle, wonderfully balancing its elements.
THE BEAUTY INSIDE gives away its theme in the title: that beauty lies within the person, not on the surface. This is a bit hokey and seems thin for a movie apparently geared towards an adult audience, but it all ends up working. This is a movie with its heart where it should be—although it takes far too long to get there.
Even though THE BEAUTY INSIDE is a remake of a 2012 American movie of the same name (which starred Topher Grace, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and members of the audience, making it something of a landmark “social film”), it still feels fresh. This is partly because debut director Baik (who worked in various departments on 2003’s OLDBOY and 2013’s SNOWPIERCER, among others) has such a grasp on what the characters are experiencing, even though he has certainly never gone through these scenarios himself.
There is also the cast, with a remarkable and complex performance by Han Hyo-joo, who earned Best Actress nods at both the Grand Bell Awards and the Blue Dragon Film Awards. This is just the sort of turn that, while fairly quiet, warrants international attention.
Video: 2.39:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Details and colors are fine, but the image is soft overall and occasionally flat.
Audio: Korean 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Subtitles in English. Dialogue and atmospheric sounds come through nicely.