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On one gloomy rainy night, a writer encounters an unexpected visit paid by a woman of his past. Seeking solitude from her ex-lover, she finds solace in this gentleman; and from that day on, they cherish every inch of each others body and indulge in ecstasy until her forbidden past is gradually revealed. Written by
Evocative, with Moments of Poetic Brilliance and Coherent Intellect
Despite a great amount of flesh being visible, consisting of plenty of nipples and backside, alongside several sex scenes, each one sizably different from the next as each character explores the others' body, La Belle is a film that could never be labelled as simply a soft porn feature, for there is a great amount of depth layered in the story.
From the beginning, the writer, portrayed by Oh Ji-Ho, explains to the audience, as he often does through the act of narration, how he is in the process of developing the beginning of a story, which leads us to contemplate the realism of the characters and the world we are introduced to: is is really happening, or is this the fantastical imagination of a poet, much of what we witness often justifying one plausible outcome while alienating another, and ultimately, it comes down to personal opinion.
Much of the film takes place in the writer's apartment, one of the only venues where he and the woman can spend time together, this location being the center of their universe, though the story does occasionally venture onto the streets of the metropolis, and onto a vacant beach. Despite the basic scenery, the serenading track of the piano provides the feature with a poignant score, while the use of sound, especially that which signals the return of the woman, brings the audience a sense of hope, as though perhaps on this occasion she will decide to stay.
The character of the writer is a deeply romantic individual, and it is a shame that much of the work he produces is only for the ear of the audience, rather than the woman who enters his life, and steals not only his attention, but his heart. We discover in one scene a subtle reference to the life the writer lives outside of his apartment, though the lackluster information towards this is obviously implemented to ensure we realize how dedicated he is to the woman, his entire life being indefinitely postponed.
Lee Ji-Hyeon portrays the young woman who appears at his door one day: a former flame, he too happily allows her access to his life, not knowing how long he will have the luxury of her company. She is immediately introduced as an outgoing and spontaneous person, whose complex ideas of romance have not been formed through art and literature, but through the experiences she has endured over time, that express the person she has become.
He on the other hand is more of an introvert, almost constantly seen with a book in his hand, or a piece of parchment, where he scrawls his thoughts. The commonality that exists between them is the selfishness they exhibit, both using the other for their own desirous intent. The romantic persona of his character, alongside the openness he conveys to her, make him a reliable person she can fall back on, and though she adamantly refuses to love him, she offers herself to him, expressing the gladness she feels when people genuinely enjoy her body.
The reason she cannot dedicate her heart to his however is constantly revealed by her returning to her past lover, despite the unhealthiness of the relationship bringing her much harm. Although her former lover has very little screen time, the impact of his presence is depicted through her cell phone: he calls, and she submits to his request, unable to refuse, in the hopes he may once more entirely accept her. Due to this, the writer sadly annotates how he is destined to always be a person waiting, as he watches the woman he cannot openly confess his feelings towards, continuously running back to her former flame, unhappily returning to his apartment every time, and just when he has pieced her happiness back together, she deserts him for her former paramour yet again.
Unfortunately, it is gradually revealed that neither character truly understands the other, both going out of their way to do things they believe will bring the other happiness, but, often, causes the opposite. Over time, her inability to devote her heart solely to his, causes tension to spill out, and the pent up anger that the man keeps to himself as he becomes more disillusioned, is uncontrollably revealed through the lack of communication he begins to exhibit, alongside the distance between them.
The story indicates over time the different definitions of happiness that people hold, and the sacrifices we are willing to make to ensure those we believe we love are capable of experiencing theirs. Not every moment of the film is visually pleasing, though La Belle does brilliantly articulate the senselessness of love, and the actions we commit in its name.
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