On one gloomy night a writer encounters an unexpected paid visit by a woman of his past. From that day on, they cherish each other's body and divulge in ecstasy, although the man finds himself becoming slowly obsessed with her with every minute they spend in his room. But whenever the woman receives a phone call no matter the hour, she always bolts out of the door leaving the man behind utterly confused. While having no clue as to what she does outside, the man patiently waits and jots down his growing feelings for her in his journal. As this continues on day after day, their erotic relationship becomes threatened one day when he discovers that the mysterious phone call turns out to be her ex-lover who constantly abuses her whenever they meet. Set out to keep their obsessive relationship in tact, he recklessly goes out to seek revenge for his beautiful lover.
This movie was so weird. For the most part it didn't make a lick of sense.
- Overall 4
- Story 3
- Acting/Cast 5
- Music 4
- Rewatch Value 3
Very light on plot, the leads had no chemistry whatsoever, the acting was wooden ... at best. There were some beautiful shots, but the story went for a walk and never came back. I think the problem lies in the premise of the film - a woman randomly walks into a stranger's apartment and begins a sporadic affair with him. Each time the woman's cell phone rings she'd disappear for days then return without explanation. Baffled and unable to help his fascination with the mysterious woman, the hero takes her in each time even though he knows next to nothing about her since she flat out refuses to tell him
anything meaningful about herself.
He wonders, like we do, whether she's high or just crazy due to some very bizarre and erratic behaviour. Why he falls so hopelessly, head over heels in love with her is anybody's guess. She basically leads him around like a dog on a leash and not in cute romantic way. The entire film resulted in him trying to solve the puzzle that was this woman. Problem is, though, her story wasn't interesting enough to hold my attention. In fact, I thought it was rather ridiculous.
First of all, who behaves in this way? I find both their actions so bizarre and unbelievable. A woman walks into some guy's, who she doesn't know from Adam, place and takes up residence just like that? And the hero letting this strange woman in, giving her a key to his apartment when he doesn't know if she's setting up to rob or kill him? Come on now. Who does that?
I'm sorry to say it was a waste of time. The whole thing was just very poorly developed and executed. I watch a lot of films and being a filmmaker myself I'm very lenient on how I judge other people's efforts. It takes a lot for me to completely fail a film, but this simply left a lot to be desired.
There were no redeeming qualities except that the hero was absolutely gorgeous. But if you need a little more than a pretty face to hold your attention, don't bother with this one. Not even the romantic scenes were interesting enough to carry this lacklustre romantic drama. I doubt I'll ever watch it again.
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Oh Ji-ho & "La Belle"
- Overall 10
- Story 10
- Acting/Cast 10
- Music 10
- Rewatch Value 10
By Fung Lan Yong (2011)
La Belle (starring Oh Ji-ho) contains captivating expressions that reflect Roland Barthes' concept of neutrality, something that is open and noncommittal. It exposes the audience to the passionate experiences of two star-crossed characters so much that they become lost within the scenes. Such loss of self or immersion allows the audience to experience a string of emotions outside the social realm, free from cultural constraints.
La Belle is a novelistic form of rhetoric that challenges the audience's views of the social constructs of love without asserting any definitive meaning. It presents the fictionalized reflections of a young melancholic writer seeking to identify, and be identified by, a lovely model whose
personal life he knows little about, and who does not love him at all. While his obsession is open to criticism, his unrequited love evokes empathy.
His desperate search for signs by which to express, and receive, love is mainly evident through illusions. By affirming himself into a false ideal reality, the gorgeous introverted writer spends his days waiting in a delusion, demonstrating the contradictory logic inherent in his search for love.
La Belle is a story about two complex personalities, a dashing writer and a captivating model, whose intriguing lives revolve around a passionately surreal relationship. Though blessed with many ecstatic moments, the relationship is a heart-wrenching experience characterized by waiting, abuse, unrequited love, and fatal emotions.
The writer (Oh Ji-ho) is an introspective and reclusive individual who strives to derive reality from fantasy. Possessing neither courage nor inner strength to voice his feelings, he persuades himself to use his youthful body to speak the language whenever he fails to express his thoughts and emotions with words.
He patiently waits for la belle to return with empty longing eyes. He silently follows her every abrupt departure with a long painful gaze. He tenderly uses his warm body as a safe haven that offers her security and comfort. As she weeps in his sturdy arms over another man, all he is able to do is to shout a silent scream that cries out for unrequited love, far beyond her unreachable space.
He ruefully stares at the elaborate body art on her back, stressing that he does not want others to paint on her. He gently carries her from the wet bathroom floor with loving arms that lay her on his spotlessly white bed. Under the wet dress, he gingerly wipes her lifeless body with a soft white towel so that she can recuperate from the physical and emotional wounds inflicted by another man, a man whom she recklessly clings to.
He tries in vain to make her stay by embracing her with tightening arms, begging her not to return to the abusive boyfriend. Determined to win her love by erasing her forbidden past, he impulsively kills the abusive rival by calmly slashing his stomach with a gleaming razor blade at a crowded junction.
La belle is the capricious model who pays the writer an unexpected visit on a gloomy night, dripping cold and homeless. Shunned by an abusive man, she wants the writer to mend her broken heart and calm her shattered mind. Since then, she becomes not only an indispensable part of his life, but his very existence as well.
She continues to devote her affection to a brutal man, as the writer sinks deeper and deeper in love with her. She disappears from his life the minute the cellular phone rings, without a moment's notice or a farewell kiss. Having utterly no knowledge of her undertakings outside, he can only despondently wait for her return, penning his lovelorn feelings in a black-cover diary, with black ink constantly flowing from a black fountain pen.
She returns to the writer each time she is badly injured, depressed, or intoxicated, yet she offers him neither attention nor gratitude. Seeking solitude from cold rejection, she finds solace in the writer's harmoniously sparse apartment that rises far above the hustle and bustle of her own shattered world. Shackled by a sadomasochistic relationship, all she wants from the writer is temporary physical and emotional relief, not a committed relationship with love as the foundation.
She coldheartedly uses the writer as a substitute for unrequited love and as a provider of food and shelter, never once cherishing him as the object of her love. She unrepentantly manipulates his caring and sensitive nature to satisfy her sordid desire to be with the other man. In the writer's nurturing embrace, she pretends that she is loved by the sadistic man whom she truly adores, one who reciprocates her adulation by trampling on her soul with cruel contempt.
The lover of her choice is an aloof and violent man who exploits her movements like a perfunctory marionette. While she is with the writer, she has one ear tuned to her phone all the time. Whenever the lover calls, she leaps right out of the writer's view, dresses up, and races off without uttering a single word. Her heartstring is synonymous with the phone line securely wrapped around the other man's fingers; whenever he tugs, she helplessly responds without the slightest hesitation, like a selfless moth fatally drawn to an insidious candle flame.
She treats everything casually; she casually enters the writer's life and then casually abandons him. She says that destiny is casual and that it is also casual when things become reality. When she feels dejected, she casually finds the writer to give her accommodation and sustenance. While faithfully waiting for the other man to call, she casually uses the writer as a soporific to soothe her pain. She casually weaves a gripping spell from which the writer tries to struggle free, but to no avail.
She is unable to wrench herself free from a self-destructive past, too engulfed to wake up from a nightmare to start a loving relationship with the writer. Her boyfriend treads on her like an unwanted doormat all the time, yet she willingly accepts the humiliation and shame. She even declares that she is willing to get hit while the other is happy to hit her. She often throws derogatory remarks at the writer, indicating that neither his considerate deeds nor his foolish gaze can change anything. Her masochistic tendencies blind her from the writer's love and undermine her willpower to supersede self-loathing with love. To numb her heartache and despair, she mentally abuses the enamored writer who describes his pining in solitary silence.
Waiting for love
La Belle depicts the fruitless waiting of an infatuated writer and a lovely model. In his harmoniously sparse apartment, the writer awaits the love of his life, serenaded by books and accompanied by a pen. Writing his thoughts down allows him to dwell in her extended periods of absence, while dreaming of someone similar to la belle, but someone who genuinely loves him and never leaves him lonely again.
While waiting, he unceasingly tries to find meaning in all aspects of her existence, which makes his disconsolate heart tremble with fear. She always acts as if she will stay; nevertheless, he never knows when she will be desperately out of his reach again. His futile waiting leaves him not only more exposed to her absence, but also more vulnerable to her presence.
He once assures her that he will help her terminate her unhappy life if she is still unhappy ten or twenty years from then. Sadly, he is unable to wait that long; one day, with tears rolling down his cheeks, he strangles her to death, after realizing that she has never been, and will never be, happy despite all that he has faithfully done to bring her happiness. By ending her unhappy life, he also brings all the wistful waiting and passionate obsession to an end.
However, it is not only the writer who incessantly waits for la belle to change and reciprocate his love. While despising the writer's meek waiting, la belle is also waiting in vain for her tyrannical boyfriend to eventually accept her love. She relentlessly waits for the ringtones, regardless of what the writer is ardently doing to make her stay. When the phone finally rings, usually at unearthly moments, she answers it like an excited schoolgirl. Upon receiving a harsh command, she dashes out of the apartment without giving the writer the slightest glance. After some time, she drags her physically and emotionally drenched body back to the elegant apartment, often in a drunken frenzy or savagely beaten by the boyfriend. Still, he rescues her with welcoming arms, fully aware that she loves another man who not only does not love her but also perpetually assaults her. Just as the audience thinks that all the waiting is finally over, the ominous phone rings, and the vicious cycle of abrupt departing and prolonged waiting invariably starts.
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