Movie Reviews

Time (2006) – Kim Ki Duk

When it comes to plastic surgery, some of us feel the need to blame society or even worse make a case of moral justice out of it. It’s a sensitive matter that intertwines spiritual and emotional aspects of our own existence. But, plastic surgery is not always about the ego or the desire to fit one’s ideals. With the passing of time it became an industry, not to be judged by the personal needs of the individuals that make use of it. Plastic surgery is about choice and accepting your own body, some people even go to the extent of saying that it’s the art of creating yourself. 

It’s true we live in a society that makes us strive for perfection in terms of appearance. Some blame the media for that, some the fashion industry, but that’s not what really matters.


In all this craze we forget about our emotional side, our insides, metaphorically said. It’s the psychological causes and effects that must be taken into account when considering plastic surgery.


These represent the prime motives of the South Korean director Kim Ki Duk’s movie Time. A movie that’s not just a bad love story, or a pretended documentary on plastic surgery. Kim Ki Duk creates a statement that has its roots in his own society, South Korea having the best plastic surgeons in the world as some analysts may say. Although artsy and at times full of symbolism in close connection to the director’s own cultural references, Time manages to create a full-blown picture of the psychology behind a very particular case of why an individual wants plastic surgery.


Starting with the story of a failed modern love relationship, the plot itself leaves the spectator quite baffled. At first we meet the two partners, before and having a blunt break up alongside the reasons behind it – this manages somehow to represent the key point in the movie. The woman, See-hee, clearly unstable from a psychological standpoint, and having deep issues about her face in correlation with the relationship with her lover, decides to have plastic surgery. That’s the moment that marks the unleashing of the drama, following her lover, Ji-woo, that gets left behind after See-hee’s sudden disappearance after she decides to undergo a series of plastic surgery procedures.


She completely alters her face through what appears to be a face lift, the kind that erases the marks left on your face by the passing of time. The plastic surgery mania continues as she completely changes the shape of her nose (resorting to rhinoplasty) and her overall features.


From now on she has a different face, and with it, some may say a new life. She put a mask through plastic surgery, one that allows her to erase her past and even her personality as we can see later in the movie. But if erasing the past was the true reason for her to make such a big and life changing decision, she definitely failed. She is unable to forget – she actually wants to be a new woman for her boyfriend, and plastic surgery comes to feed her obsessive character and to fulfill her desperate needs.



While the desperation and the sadness that are shown throughout the scenes make us anxious about our own insecurities, Time unravels to us a procession of narcissistic attitudes that can sometimes translate to a need for superficiality that comes from our own social environment that is stricken by consumerism and fake characters.


The movie sets aside the entertainment value of the message regarding self esteem, making us questioning our own sensibilities when it comes to body image. Kim Ki Duk’s yearning for profound symbolism generates characters that are naturally weird in accordance with the culture they are coming from and with whom we can easily identify –  becauseTime isn’t just a movie about plastic surgery or the pains of life – it’s a movie about emotional addiction next to the craze that supports it.



Watch the trailer here: