Korean auteur Kim Ki-Duk (Bad Guy and Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring) digs into modern society's obsession with beauty and the supposed attainment of perfection through medical procedure in his oddball pseudo-thriller.
Time follows a young woman named Seh-hee (Ji-Yeon Park) who is a mess of insecurities and jealousies, so much so that it has crippled her relationship with her boyfriend, Ji-woo (Jung-woo Ha). Descending into self-pity and self-hatred, Seh-hee devises a plan: to have extreme plastic surgery to change her face into one that will please Ji-woo. And so she does, disappearing without a trace and leaving her boyfriend no clue as to her whereabouts. Months later, the now-single Ji-woo decides to move on with his life, just as he meets a beautiful mystery woman who seems to be his perfect match...almost too perfect. Their romance plays out like a complicated shell game -- one that becomes very twisted when Ji-woo discovers his "new" lover's identity. The dunks on superficial perceptions of beauty notwithstanding, Ki-Duk's obvious influence here is Hitchcock. However, the suspense and intrigue both fail to rouse. Instead, the film feels like a hyper-driven soap opera. As the ridiculous events compound, the melodrama eventually morphs into high camp and it's within this context that Time succeeds as an unintentional creepy comedy. And, as with all of Ki-Duk's meticulously composed films, it's drop-dead beautiful to watch. (Phil Morehart) Grade: B+
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