Saturday, April 24, 2010


Six actresses, one photo shoot.

Lee Je-Yong's Actresses takes its audience behind the scenes of a high-fashion shoot in an attempt to offer a glimpse into the psyche of six of Korea's top actresses, playing an onscreen version of themselves. Discussing everything from how growing old in show business is treated like a crime, to how something as common as a divorce could adversely affect a celebrity's standing, this movie contains a chockful of references pertaining to the six actresses' personal lives whilst threading lightly on the underlying truth that they all belong to an industry obsessed with youth and beauty.

Beginning with a candid interview detailing how each actress feels about being in the limelight, the movie cuts to the arrival of each actress to this one of a kind Vogue photoshoot to exhibit six generations of actresses, each in different stages of their careers.

Veteran actress Yoon Yeo-Jung (Hotelier, Be Strong Geum Soon) impeccably dressed in a sable coat arrives an hour early at the venue, followed by relative newcomer Kim Ok-bin (Thirst, Accidental Gangster & the Mistaken Courtesan), who's decided to wait in the parking lot a while longer to avoid carrying on an awkward conversation with her senior. Next to arrive is a casual and laidback Ko Hyun-Jung (Queen Seonduk, What's Up Fox) in a randomly thrown outfit, with a dazed and jetlagged Kim Min-hee (Love Marriage, Some Like it Hot) hot on her heels, rounded off by a composed Lee Mi-Suk (Untold Scandal), showing off some grey hairs. Last and fashionably late is Choi Ji-Woo (Winter Sonata) who, after fretting about her face looking bloated, decides to honor her commitment to do the pictorial, thinking twice about being photoshopped into the group picture.

What follows is a mock documentary as the women measure themselves against each other, starting with the way they look to how the star system is carried over the photoshoot. Confronted with the challenge of sharing a magazine cover, personal issues start to crop up, as the seasoned pro can't help but feel insecure after hearing that she was called in as a last minute replacement and the newbie tries to keep her head down and not draw too much attention to herself; while the others try their best not to behave like primadonnas. 

Actresses has a solid first half thanks to the natural rapport of actresses Ko Hyun-Jung, Lee Mi-Suk  and Yoon Yeo-Jung, who frankly deliver their opinions on common subjects such as cosmetic surgery and skin care like ajuhmmas killing time at a local beauty salon. At times the gracious veterans and at times acting like embittered divas, the three provide the film with a certain level of believability, providing a clear contrast to Kim Ok-Bin and Lee Min-Hee's understated performances as the ingenue and the token hot babe, respectively.

Choi Ji-Woo unfortunately sticks out like a sore thumb but holds her own in a scene where she's pitted against a tactless, slightly inebriated Ko Hyun-Jung, as the two engage in a verbal smackdown in the powder room. It's the culmination of the underlying tension and competitiveness that comes with bringing together these high-profile actresses which the movie only alluded to in its first few minutes but while it's a cinematic treat to see the famed hallyu actress lash out, the conflict gets all watered down as all six actresses play nice in an impromptu dinner party to celebrate Christmas eve.

No one really gets to play the villain, for unlike Entourage, where the guest stars get to poke fun and do something over the top with their alternate personas, this film, as may attributed to Korean modesty and convention, is a curious and restrained piece of scripted-reality. It has no major revelations nor does it impart any controversial information, probably in deference to each actresses' image and comfort zone. Neither does Director Lee intend to push the envelope, given the roundabout way that he chose to depict the vanity and self-consciousness that comes with his subjects' chosen profession. As such, viewers are forced to deduce only what they can about the women before them, based on how the people around them studiously shower them with compliments to gain their attention.

By the end of it all, one can't help but wonder what percentage of the film managed to reveal what's real and what percentage of it was a performance delivered by six actresses who merely wanted to add something different to their filmography.

In the same way that the camera deliberately weaves in and out of shots to give an "in-the-moment-feel", it eventually draws back to show a mirror image of its stars to remind people that perhaps amidst the glitter and the lights, they only get to see only as much as what they're allowed to see---a mirage, an ideal, but certainly not the true person underneath. And with that, you begin to realize that what you have before you, is just another movie.


  1. haha yeah it's just a movie...
    it's not super real as they would actually act
    and talk in real life...

    I had a chance to talk to Lee Mi Suk coz of my work before but she's really charismatic :D

  2. Oh cool, you got to talk to one of the actresses. Sound like you have a very interesting job. Anyway, I was hoping for the movie to have more substance but yeah, I was wrong. ^^