The life of a beautiful woman is miserable. Though Eun-yeong feels flattered when people ask for her autograph and men court her and barrage her with gifts, she is not happy at all.
Men bother her and women are jealous of her. One day, a stalker sexually assaults her. He is caught, but says, I did it because she was so beautiful. Police officer Eun-cheol feels pity for Eun-yeong, but also falls for her.
The movie Beautiful is set for a Feb. 14 release. Director Jeon Jae-hong is a protégé of maverick Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk, who won international fame for 3-Iron and Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring Again. Beautiful has been selected for screening at the Berlin International Film Festival. Jeon will find it hard to avoid comparisons to his mentor, given their similar styles. Jeons directorial method and storyline are reminiscent of Kims, as both directors examine ethics and values through rough and extreme scenes.
Beautiful is a cruel and anti-version of 200-Pound Beauty, an award-winning comedy film released in 2006. In Beauty, Hanna enjoys her newfound looks after undergoing plastic surgery, but in Beautiful, Eun-yeong seeks to get rid of her beauty. First, she tries to grow obese but fails. She then tries to starve herself to look like a skeleton. In society, bulimia and anorexia are brought on by the desire to look beautiful, but Eun-yeong suffers from those illnesses as a result of her struggle to turn ugly. In a world where everybody goes to any length to be pretty, her lonely struggle looks both ridiculous and absurd.
Some men scramble to curry favor with attractive girls as illustrated in 200-Pound Beauty. Others exploit and abuse beauties as the police officer does in Beautiful. While watching a video clip of Eun-yeong taken by the stalker, he mumbles, Guys who rape women have no problem; rather, the girl with this gorgeous body is to blame.
Eun-cheol appears to sincerely love Eun-yeong, but is no different than the stalker in that his love for her stems from the carnal desire to possess beauty.
At first, the film depicts women as victims and men as assailants, but in the end, all of the characters are shown as victims of the blind pursuit of beauty. Though somewhat exaggerated, the movie shows how far a society that values external looks the most can go and effectively depicts one extreme case that nobody is willing to experience.