Review

Depth and humor carry 'The Beauty Inside'

Everyday, Woo-Jin wakes up with a new face. New face, new body, new eyesight, new shoe size, completely new outer-facing identity. Though he remains the same inside, the world sees him as an old woman, a middle-aged man, a young lady, a child.

Predictably, this makes relationships, particularly romantic ones, difficult. Although Woo-Jin enjoys waking up as a handsome young man, the relationships last for only one night. That is until he meets the lovely Yi-Soo (Hyo-ju Han) in a furniture store, and he imagines what it might be like to have a love that's more lasting.

This high-concept project deals with some deceptively simple, evergreen questions, starting with: Do you fall in love with someone's appearance, or who he is on the inside? The film, directed by Jong-Yeol Baek, is a Korean adaptation of a project that originally was produced as a Web series directed by Drake Doremus and starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Topher Grace.

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With the luminous Han as the leading lady and a host of actors portraying Woo-Jin, this winning romantic comedy-drama explores deeply philosophical issues, including the ephemerality of body versus the intangible longevity of soul. It runs about 30 minutes too long, stretching the concept to its absolute limits before the resolution. But it's satisfying, charming and surprising — a film that keeps its supernatural elements grounded in reality, with the focus on the spirituality of true love.

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"The Beauty Inside."

No MPAA rating.

Running time: 2 hours.

Playing: CGV Cinemas, Los Angeles; Regal La Habra Stadium 16; Edwards' University Town Center 6, Irvine.

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