My Beautiful Girl, Mari (2002) is my first full-length Korean animated movie and I bought it because I vaguely recall reading some good comments about it a long time ago. My DVD comes with bonus features and, very importantly for me, is English-subbed. I popped the movie into the player and within the first minute or so, heard a very familiar voice.
Lee Byung-hun! Oh my, I had no idea he was one of the voices in this movie! What a pleasure to hear his deep and distinctive voice without the distraction of his hot and smothering eyes, haha.
Alas, Lee Byung-hun speaks only in the first few minutes and then again near the end. He is the voice of the grown-up Namwoo – the main character in the movie. 95% of the movie is about the boy Namwoo so it’s a child’s voice that we will listen to.
What a beautiful movie! It’s like watching a series of water-color paintings; the animation is not as sophisticated as a Miyazaki or Dreamworks production, but it is gorgeous nonetheless.
This is a story of growing up, of friendship, loss, coping, hope, and dreams. Namwoo is going through a very unsettled time in his life – his father is dead, his grandma is ill, his best pal is moving to the city, his favorite play haunt (a deserted lighthouse) has been walled up for renovation, and his mother is being cautiously courted by another man. In the midst of it all, he finds a marble with a picture of a little flying girl inside. Thus begins a fantasy that will take him to another world where sky and sea seem to merge as one.
The original soundtrack is so lovely, almost like that of My Mother the Mermaid. It fits so well with the magic of the movie, the music soaring even as a seagull flies over the Korean landscape of skyscrapers and craggy cliffs.
This is a movie about remembrance… remembering the child you once were, and all the fears and fantasies you harbored so secretly. Highly recommended!