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Oasis (2002)

 -  Drama | Romance  -  7 May 2004 (USA)
8.0
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 4,882 users   Metascore: 79/100
Reviews: 33 user | 51 critic | 14 from Metacritic.com

Jong-du, a young man just out of prison for manslaughter, is a social misfit: fidgety, snuffling, laughing inappropriately, without a super ego. When released, he calls on the family of the... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Jong-du Hong
...
Gong-ju Han
Nae-sang Ahn ...
Jong-Il Hong
Seung-wan Ryoo ...
Jong-Sae Hong
Kwi-Jung Chu ...
Jong-Sae's Wife
Jin-gu Kim ...
Mrs. Hong
Byung-ho Son ...
Sang-Shik Han
Ga-hyun Yun ...
Sang-Shik's Wife
Myeong-shin Park ...
Woman Neighbor
Kyung-geun Park ...
Woman Neighbor's Husband
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Dae-gwan Han ...
Detective 2
Jin-seob Han ...
Detective 1
Seo-hie Ko
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Storyline

Jong-du, a young man just out of prison for manslaughter, is a social misfit: fidgety, snuffling, laughing inappropriately, without a super ego. When released, he calls on the family of the victim; they send him away, but not before he has seen Gong-ju, a young woman disabled severely by cerebral palsy. Both are abused by their families, and both are used by them as well. Although their relationship begins with Jong-du's criminal behavior, a friendship develops. They talk of favorite things; he washes her hair; they go out; in late night phone calls, he helps her past her fears of the dark. Is there a place in the world for these two inarticulate people? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Have you really loved someone?

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Drama | Romance

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7 May 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Oaza  »

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Another masterpiece by Lee Chang-Dong
21 February 2004 | by (Yokohama, Japan) – See all my reviews

The director had been known in Korea as a novelist before he started to make films. That must be the reason why his films give us always the impression that they are deeply literary much more than cinematic.

"Oasis" is a very literary film like his other films, but it also gives us the specific pleasure to watch movies by the imaginary scenes dreamed by a handicapped woman named Gong-ju, for instance. These scenes are sentimental, but they are incredibly beautiful and delicate (these pigeons and butterflies flying in her room, for example). And the scene where Gong-ju sings a song to another protagonist Jong-du must be one of the most beautiful scenes of "confession of love" ever depicted by a film. That is the moment, I am sure, when this film takes suddenly on the features of something sacred.

The director says this is a film about "border" as well as "communication." And in order to show the difficulty of communication and/or of going across the border, he tried to make Jong-du an abominable and disgusting person, especially at the beginning of the film. If you feel uncomfortable when you start to watch this film, you should consider that such discomfort was intentional even though the behaviors by Jong-du seem to be extremely violent and selfish. And you should also be patient until the "miraculous" moment of the "mutation" (from vulgarity to holiness) comes. You will certainly forget about the discomfort you had felt.

And this is naturally a film about Love. It shows us just "one of" the forms of love, should I probably say, since the one shown in this film is too special and peculiar, but still I am tempted to say: "This is the Love."

I though of "The Legend of St. Julian Hospitator" by Gustave Flaubert, but I do not know if I should expect that the protagonists would be called under the name of the "saints" or so. And I also remembered the heroine Sarah of "The End of the Affair" by Graham Greene. Sarah writes in her diary, thinking of her lover named Maurice, with whom she had decided not to meet again because of the promise with God: "I'm not at peace any more. I just want him like I used to in the old days. I want to be eating sandwiches with him. I want to be drinking with him in a bar. I'm tired and I don't want any more pain. I want Maurice. I want ordinary corrupt human love."

Once swore to God to separate from his lover, Sarah wants him always, being full of desires and wanting "corrupt human love" even just before her death. She stayed secular and even vulgar until the end, even though the author must have wished to lead her to the path toward God. And that is just why Sarah, that miserable mortal, stays always in my mind.

Same thing for Gong-ju and Jong-du. Their happiness may exist in this real world full of prejudice and discrimination, where ugly desire or ordinary cheapness of human life smears them. But it may also give them pleasure to love, to help each other, and/or to share something precious between them. They do not need God, but they just need each other.

Nobody knows whether or not the future will congratulate them in the end, but probably, as did the director, should I leave them in the room of Gong-ju, where many dusts floating in the air are shimmering with the sunlight, and Gong-ju seems to be smiling, reading the letter from Jong-du. We don't know if they will be able to finish their story, but anyway, they have started it. Everything is now up to them.

10/10.


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