At the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, there was a pretty little girl who sang in a sweet, beautiful voice. But people were shocked when they found out that the pretty girl was actually lip-synching to a song sung by a different girl. More than a few people were dumbfounded by this incident, brought on by a society obsessed with physical beauty, Japan's veteran TV drama writer Shizuka Oishi was no exception. Watching the lip-synching girl, the writer started to wonder, “People say it’s the heart that counts, not looks.. but isn’t that just a saying too?” That curiosity led to her writing about a love story full of the ups and downs between an unattractive woman and an attractive man. A team composed of a Korean director, Japanese writers and Hallyu stars came together to make the film “My Love, Ugly Duckling”, the first of the telecinema project series.
Kang Tae-poong (played by Kang Ji-hwan) is a handsome and successful architect who, after a car accident, suffers from temporary visual disability and meets the goddess of his dreams. During the two days that he sees beautiful women as ugly and ugly ones as beautiful, he falls in love with Wang So-joong (played by E Ji-ah), the most unattractive woman of them all. But, as it turns out, Wang, an ugly Cinderella who has won the love of a prince, is no girl with the heart of gold. Wang is a fearless, hot-tempered woman who also firmly believes in the importance of outward beauty -- her philosophy is that “a man should be beautiful”. Of course, in the disabled eyes of Kang Tae-poong, she is “a goddess who is beautiful on the inside as well as the outside”. But when the magic of visual disability wears off, can Wang still be riding on the horse of her white knight?
“You are the goddess that I have been dreaming of.” “You are lovely. You are a gift that God has left for me.” The two characters are almost like they popped out of a comic book: Kang Tae-poong is absolutely nonchalant when uttering such classic and cliche, Harlequin-like dialogue while Wang So-joong confuses us with her sometimes-ugly-sometimes-beautiful-but-hard-to-tell appearance. Writer Oishi, who has written dense stories in different genres -- traditional drama, melodrama, human drama -- in previous works including “Handoku” and “First Love”, shows the correlation between love and looks in a humorous way, but it is hard to find a specific point where we can laugh our heads off or worry about love. Korean director Lee Jang-soo, who is known for creating tear-shedding melodramas like “Stairway to Heaven” and “Beautiful Days”, attempts for a new approach by splitting the screen (like Marvel Comics) and uses various special effects but the result is only occasionally refreshing and at most times distracting. The film finishes up leaving the viewer feeling awkward, as if wearing an ill-fitted suit, despite the efforts of a great writer and director. The ending, which looks like the one we have already seen in the movie “Shallow Hal”, also comes off as a hasty stitch-up to the story rather than a conclusion.
But it is premature to jump to conclusions about the entire telecinema project based on this film alone. Starting with “Duckling”, which opens on November 5, a total of eight telecinemas are set to open every week, including “19-Nineteen”, starring Big Bang members Top and Seung-ri, and “Mailman of Heaven” starring TVXQ’s Hero Jaejoong and Han Hyo-joo. The telecinemas will first be aired in Korea, then in Japan staring next January and air on Asahi TV program “Famous Movie Theater” in May.
Reporter : Lee Ji-Hye firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor : Lynn Kim email@example.com
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