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Messages and meanings in 'The Beauty in Dream'

2004/04/22 | 530 views | Permalink | Source

When watching a movie with a fractured narrative, it often feels as if we are piecing together a jigsaw of disjointed sequences, constantly shifting them around in our heads while trying to glean messages and meanings from the reconstructed fragments.

In "The Beauty in Dream", director Lee Gyeong-yeong makes excellent use of this narrative device by shuffling scenes between the past and present day, completely throwing any semblance of dramatic progress to the wind.

The end result of this technique - also used to great effect by Quentin Tarantino in his 1994 cult classic "Pulp Fiction" and more recently, "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" - is that we are forced to undertake a demanding process of carefully examining the film's characters, lives and relationships in a Sherlock Holmes-like effort to discover the movie's raison d'etre.

"The Beauty in Dream" is a romantic tearjerker broken up into six segments that follow the interconnected lives of Yoon-ho (Lee Kyung-young), Yu-me (Jung In-sun) and So-ra (Ha Hee-ra). Yoon-ho, who writes screenplays and dabbles in movie production, is father to Yu-me, his absolute pride and joy and sole reason to live following the untimely death of his wife.

Although only 12 years old, the impossibly perfect Yu-me is wise beyond her years but cursed with a fatal flaw: She has an incurable illness. So-ra, Yoon-ho's deceased wife's best friend, fills the role of mother in Yu-me's life while harboring a deep-seated love for Yoon-ho.

Unwilling to betray her Dead Friend's memory, So-ra chooses instead to satisfy her passion for Yoon-ho in the emotionally risk-free world of dreams. A succession of crises in the characters' lives shatters this safe yet emotionally barren existence, setting the trio on a collision course of pain, joy and love.

For some, the film's jumbled-up scenes will seem more alluring as self-contained chapters than when they are assembled into the final complex event. Yet, this shuffled viewing experience allows the director plenty of latitude, signposting the journey with eclectic characters such as a Ha Ri-su-worshipping transgender couple, a sleazy gangster club owner with a heart of gold and two "Easy Rider" styled musicians cruising the highways of rural Korea on yellow quad runners. A well-shot film with high production values, "The Beauty in Dream" is an entertaining examination of life, love, birth, death and relationships.

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