200 Pounds Beauty

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Director: Kim Yong-hwa
Starring: Joo Jin-mo, Kim A-joong
RunTime: 116 mins
Genre: Romantic Comedy (Korean)
Rating: PG (Some sexual references)

(Thank you so much Patrick for the review.)

At first glance, 200 Pounds Beauty seems to be another typical movie that exemplifies the adage that “physical beauty rules”. And when the movie chooses the start of a concert to be the opening scene, it’s hard to think otherwise.

With well-constructed dance choreography, wanton use of pyrotechnics, alluring stage costumes, a catchy track ( "Miss you much") and a jubilant crowd, the movie indulges the audience with a sense of psychedelic delight. And with one perfect execution, it transports them from their ordinary routine lives into the realm of demi-gods and divas, of self-indulgence and exuberance. In this world there is no room for imperfections and the unperfected. Flawlessness rules.

If someone were to move twenty metres to the back of the stage, there will be a plump woman in casual wear, standing on a temporarily-constructed stage with three monitors showing the lead female singer performing at that concert, the directions from the male concert coordinator and the crowd’s response. Surrounded by silence, the plump woman will then sing into a microphone, lip-syncing for the svelte performing singer on stage. This is another world altogether, an attention-deficit world where even shadows fear to tread. A world without echoes.

And with such a metaphor illustrating the fact that true beauty emanates from within (albeit often being unacknowledged), it can be said that this is how 200 Pounds Beauty won over the movie audience too.

The concert is a beautiful metaphor for the material world, where beauty rules and imperfection often lies in the shadows. And it is not without good reasons that this film beat My Sassy Girl at the movie box office in Korea. Metaphors aside, the film also explores the benefits and drawbacks of cosmetic surgery (where being a comedy, it often takes a light-hearted approach to its narrative).

It will also be an injustice if credit is not given to the new actress Kim Ah-Joong, who is reported to have used her own voice for the songs in the movie. Especially noteworthy is the track Maria, which became very popular in Korea after this film’s release.

It is encouraging to see a movie that goes against the norms of society, providing an alternative voice of the universal truth that modern society seems to denounce: that physical beauty runs deep, but inner beauty runs deeper.

200 Pounds Beauty - More Than Just Skin Deep

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