As much variety as the Korean wave offers, there are certain works from each industry that simply stand out. Their popularity soars so high, that it is nearly impossible to stumble across an online portal, blog or other hallyu-related medium without seeing them mentioned or featured there in some major way. "You're Beautiful", written by Hong Jeong-eun and Hong Mi-ran ('My Girlfriend is a Gumiho', 'The Greatest Love') and directed by Hong Seong-chang ('The King of Dramas'), is such a work. Everyone knows it, most have seen it, many love it.
"You're Beautiful" has a premise often found in Asian dramas and brings the usual tropes it carries with it. This series is a gender bender. When Mi Nam , a rookie idol about to make his debut with a band called A.N.Jell, cannot return to the spotlight after his plastic surgery went wrong, his manager has an idea. He finds the young man's twin sister and hopes to disguise her as him and fool everyone, including the band, until he can return. The problem is, miss Mi Nyeo (Park Shin-hye) is aiming to become a nun and is generally not well-versed in telling lies and pretending. Add to that Hwang Tae-kyeong (Jang Geun-suk), the band leader, whose arrogance and sourness are only matched by his demanding personality and dislike for the rookie, and it's a recipe for disaster. And as usual, romance.
The plot itself is very divided when it comes to quality. The actual story is not really one of the highlights for the Hong sisters. The way things go, the conflicts, the misunderstandings and resolutions are quite predictable and are often found in dramas and also gender bender stories. However, the dialogues, jokes and more comedic happenings of the series are truly hilarious and ranging from lines to meta jokes to slapstick comedy. This makes the series very entertaining and raises it above what its genre and premise can do by themselves. The gender bender part does take heavy suspension of disbelief, as Mi Nyeo simply does not look or act like a man, and this does make the other characters seem blind or clueless, but the way the misunderstandings and revelations are written make it fun and easy to forgive, to the point where you simply go along with it and enjoy.
The casting is done with the singing requirements in mind, which gives some hit and misses acting wise. Jang Geun-suk is undoubtedly the more seasoned actor of the group, while Jung Yong-hwa and Park Shin-hye are often the weakest. Park's character does not help her much, as she is written to be cute and pure, but also limiting in her demand of acting chops. Some of the heavier scenes during the latter, more melodramatic part (which is typical Hong melodrama, so nothing too heavy) are a bit better at using some of the cast, but the fun nature of every character as well as the chemistry between all the cast members make up for a lot of the limitations of the roles and character types.
Another good element about "You're Beautiful" is, of course, the music. While nothing extraordinary, it is nice enough to have created a buzz over the imaginary band in the series and it has also helped advance the careers of those involved. The soundtrack is full of catchy tunes that captured the heart and interest of fans at the time the series was being aired. The drama also has quite good production quality, featuring nice buildings, expensive clothing, interesting locations and an overall very good looking and smooth presentation.
What makes "You're Beautiful" strong is the sum of its parts. From casting to music, to presentation to plot, while not everything is exceptional on its own, they are all combined to form a zany, refreshing and entertaining whole, which is simply pure entertainment on the screen. It is not more than fluff and it is not a work to feed your brain, but it is good fluff, the type of fluff that is simply enjoyable, makes you laugh and brightens your day.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
Available on DVD from YESASIA
Vasia, also known as Orion or Ori online, is currently doing opinion pieces and database upkeep. She has a love for good TV and a penchant for rambling in written form. Vasia can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "You're Beautiful""
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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