Sunday, September 27, 2020

SF8: Love Virtually


The story here has not much substance, however editing and humor make up for it. 

Or maybe it was purposefully done so to seem vapid - just as the vanity it criticizes. 

The titular "Love Virtually" is a dating app of an AR variety (Augmented Reality). According to the advertisement, the app can make the date seem more real than real date. 
Also, according to the company, there are more virtual couples than the real life ones - 15 million. Which is a nice recipe for extinction.
And it delivers - people have their avatars there, they can choose how to look and the whole experience is taken to the virtual sphere. Along with the kisses.

And just as our two main characters were about to (virtually) kiss, the app crashed. The world again reverted to dark ages when people had to meet face to face in real life whenever going on a date. Hence comes the dilemma - whether to wait until the app is restored or meet in reality. We have online protests with people virtually bombarding the company's headquarters with discs, demanding the action (virtual couples are valid couples, after all, according to them)

In their virtual dating life, both Jiwon and Minjun use as their avatars their old faces, before the surgery. They are not terribly uglified, as usual seen on tv, the changes are subtle but they're there - like a mole in the middle of the face, a potato shaped nose or too prominent cheekbones. And yet, these two fell in love with each other looking like this, liking their imperfections, as they seem. That's why, when they decide to meet for real, both are terrified.

And this little episode points something else, and mercilessly satirizes it - the superficial, skin deep beauty and the vanity it entails. Since some avatars were more popular than not, people started to get cosmetic surgery on a massive scale, removing what was unique about them and looking like AR models. Which leads to the situations described by our protagonists - both of them state that people want to date them just because they are beautiful, nothing else. And that's why they are hesitant to meet - because they look as beautiful as thousands of other people.

And this also leads to funny situations when they meet their doppelgangers, and in Minjun's case - apparently better endowed by nature, if you know what I mean. The bath-house scene was priceless and it's a good thing that Siwon is not afraid to make an idiot out of himself on screen.

Instead of meeting her, Minjun runs away at the first news that the app's AR function is restored to meet on a virtual date. Jiwon, however, who waited for him for hours, decides to end things. And they both rebound with other people, which quickly proves dissatisfying. Minjun hears that women date him only because of his face, as they share nothing in common (the music he listens to bores them). So their friends, who hit it off immediately, will "accidentally" cause the meeting, however to no avail, as they don't recognize under the masks of beautiful people their true selves.

Our main characters don't stay in AR, but take their relationship into the real world. They created a camaraderie, a sense of a comfortable presence with each other, and after trying whether they'd feel at ease in reality, they bid farewell to their virtual avatars - Giselle and Leonardo. They were afraid that their beautified but ultimately prosaic faces would be a deterrent to their real life relationship. But the augmented reality of their faces was also skin deep, and their characters didn't change from the times they were full of complexes about their appearance. And this was what brought them together, allowing them to form something anew.

It was a short and lighthearted story, which I think was much needed because the previous stories were anything but. It made fun of the beauty obsession sweeping everything and everyone in South Korea (but let's be real, only there?) - of adhering to one standard of beauty and in effect creating the armies of clones. It also poked fun at dependence on virtual sphere and the affirmation of people's actions by it. So you can find your soulmate even though they may look like everyone else.


 Plus: other lovely cameos, a lot of them.


This shot is for 365: Repeat the Year fans to bring back tears.