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Reading through the reviews on this page all I can say to myself is how
they have throughly missed the point. The movie is slow, very slow, but
I still sat there and watched it. It's supposed to be slow, it's
supposed to have a minimal script.
Throughout the entire movie I couldn't stop thinking about it. The speed of the movie really pulled me into the mood of the main character, and it worked.
One of the other reviewers talked about shotty production values, I completely disagree. The movie is supposed to be sketchy and ugly, its not meant to be pretty. Although I think the sketchy aspect of it is the beauty of it.
The camera work is perfect for the feeling I think the director was going for.
The reason I think this film is getting less-than-favourable reviews is that this isn't what people are expecting when they go into it. When someone hears "japanese contract killer" you don't think of a slow-paced gray drama. I went into this film expecting nothing (as I do with all Film Festival movies) and came out silent, my mind racing.
Don't see it if your expecting an action movie, see it if you are in the mood for a slow-paced interesting drama of a mans life.
I can't help but react to the only 2 reviews posted on this site.
Surprisingly, they are both from Singapore (like me) and both hate the film with a vengeance. To correct myself, Dick hates it, Peter dislikes it. What is most interesting is a display of how a film explode an audience.
Why is there so much frustration when one cannot comprehend a work of art? I'm not saying that the inability to understand is a reflection of one's level of intelligence. i'm simply asking the big EMOTIONALLY question. why do people get so frustrated over something they have problem comprehending? Have you ever dream a dream that you do not understand? Have you ever dream of signs, symbols, incidents, characters, animals, locations that doesn't make sense at all? how do you come to terms with those unfulfilling surrealist images?
Honestly, i may not get the film myself. It wasn't one of the most engaging film i have watched. it was certainly much weaker than Last Life of the Universe. But i see it as a surrealist film. The constant hollow sound through out the film may have dropped a hint. It is simply a dream about a man who is confronted by betrayal of people close to him and maybe even himself. The faint bizarre incidents creates many space for observations with the characters and the environment.
Todate, there are only postings from Singapore audience on IMDb. This shows that we are one of the earliest privilege film buffs in the world who get a chance to preview the film. It shows a great deal of confidence from the filmmaker in Singapore audience. I do not agree that it is a bad decision to bring in such art-house film. the idea about art-house often equivalent to no formula and therefore equivalent to no traditional benchmarks. there is always a different appetite needed by a different audience. i embrace picture house effort and i hope they continue to brave obscure titles with huge risk at box office for that is the spirit of art-house.
when i walk into a theatre to watch an art film, i'm expecting to be challenge as an audience.
My purpose of this writeup is merely to provide a different viewpoint. no offense.
I'm a mortal, i get angry with many things and people around me. For example, I always get angry with my dad cos i do not understand most of his behaviours and ideas. Therefore i can understand a frustrated audience as well.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie has the premise for a main stream thriller. Instead, Thai
director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, in his second collaboration with Japanese
star Asano Tadanobu and Hong Kong cinematographer Christopher Doyle,
has made "Invisible Waves" into something unflinchingly art-house. Even
the grey (i.e. not totally dark) humor is delivered with such
underplaying that it is often difficult to keep a mainstream audience
(if they happen to wander into the cinema uninformed) awake.
Asano Tadanobu, whom some consider to be Japan's Johnny Depp, can play a wide variety of roles from a wild killer (Ichi the Killer), to a tragic, somber samurai (Zatoichi) to a quiet, gentle bookstore owner (Café Lumiere). The role in "Invisible waves", however, is one that is closest to his star persona. Kyoji, a luckless cook finding himself in a somewhat inexplicable affair and ending up being the perpetrator of a dubious murder, flees Macau and Hong Kong, in a miserably claustrophobic cabin hole to Phuket, looking for an elusive shady character "Lizard" the boss has arranged for him to meet. A non-event, an encounter on the liner with a young woman (intriguing Kang Hye-Jeong from Korea's 2004 Cannes Grand Prix winner "Old Boy") who keeps dumping her baby on him so that she can go to swim, makes up another line of the "plot".
Instead of developing the suspense and relating elements, the movie makers focus on the minimalism existence of Kyoji (or non-existence, if you prefer). The thinking may be that if the audience is not drawn through the same boredom, how can they empathize with Kyoji's boredom with life? At the end of the two hours (a LONG two hours) things do have a degree of coherence and there is proper closure.
One interesting thing about this movie is that most of it is in English, the common language between the Japanese, Thai, Chinese and Korean characters. Most of these characters speak in way that it is demonstrated in no uncertain terms that English is indeed their second language. This, ironically, contributes to enhancing the sense of absurdity that is such a crucial, integral part of this movie.
There's a lot to like here, though judging from the reviews there is
not enough to please everyone.
The main character is unforgettable. The more see of him, the more there is to like or relate to. Each scene is a gem--tight, edgy, emotional in some way or another. And there a lot of variety to the scenes--the action moves around to very different places, always offering a lot for us to take in.
Yet even with something big going on in front of the camera, this is pretty much the antithesis of an action film. The director gives us lots to watch, but what we're most drawn to is on the inside--brooding, fear, struggling to get by, not knowing how things will work out.
To me the film succeeded both as storytelling and as a character study. It's one of those films I didn't want to have end, because the plot and the technique were both so absorbing. seeing.
Invisible Waves is a movie about gangsters, loyalty, murder and
revenge. Gangster movies are typically action packed with chases,
fights and confrontations. Invisible Waves is a courageous film in that
it only uses these traditional action elements to punctuate its
mesmerizing and hypnotic pace. Depending on your perspective, this is
either brilliant or boring.
Kyoji is a talented chef in Hong Kong who makes two big mistakes. First he has an affair with his boss's wife and then he murders her. Though his boss is a likable gangster with a big heart, he is a dangerous man when he has been betrayed. So Kyoji is in big trouble. He is also "the stupidest smart guy" and so naively entrusts his escape from Hong Kong to Lizard, someone he has never met, and climbs aboard a clapped out old cruise ship heading for Phuket. Before the ship has left the dock, we (though not optimistic Kyoji) begin to suspect that he has been set up.
Though Kyoji does not inspire confidence, blundering his escape and dawdling into disaster, we did find Invisible Waves intriguing and atmospheric. Unfortunately there are just too many irrelevant scenes; long, low or off centre camera shots; and lengthy silent pauses to make this film riveting. It also suffers from multiple random characters who seem as if they could be significant, but never amount to anything and so must be purposely pointless.
This is definitely a film that will divide audiences. Between those people who appreciate that art requires risks that may not always be successful and can still enjoy the attempt and intention; and others who abhor pretentiousness and are fed up with having expert cinematography compensate for poor construction and storyline. So whichever group you identify with, please conclude our verdict for Invisible Waves accordingly.
Almost every review here compares this film to Last Life in the
Universe. While that's certainly a great film, there's really no reason
to compare the two. Despite some obvious similarities (mainly in the
pacing and cinematography), this film has absolutely nothing in common
with that film. So...
I found Invisible Waves to be an extremely entertaining film that, on the surface, doesn't appear to do much of anything. While a lot of people will dismiss the film as slow and pointless, I found the pace just about right for this type of film... and perhaps it was to the credit of the charisma of the star of the film but I never found it "boring". The plot is extremely simple and, indeed, not a lot happens. You can pretty much sum up the entire film in a few sentences. But that doesn't make the film bad... Actually, you kind of have to look in between the lines of this film, because there is a lot going on that the film doesn't seem to convey... it doesn't beat you over the head with its message. It doesn't need to. It's a very ambient, dreamy, quiet film, and 2 minute shots of waves crashing and the lead character sitting and staring into space probably won't win this film many fans, but I loved it.
This is mainly for fans of, yes, "Art house" cinema, people who place the importance of image over an involving storyline. So, it's probably not for most people. But a lot of these reviews are way off base and seem intent to criticize the film solely for the fans it may potentially appeal to or how "disappointing" it is compared to Last Life in the Universe. Put aside all expectations and just watch the film. You'll probably be surprised. I personally love quiet, dreamy films with sparse dialog so this was right up my alley. But I can't speak for everyone.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The newest film by maverick director Pen-ek Ratanaruang is a moody existential thriller that doesn't have to avoid comparison with the classics of film noir. The stoic main character (played elegantly understated by Japanese superstar Tadanobu Asano) has to go through many kafkaesque and comical situations (recalling silent slapstick comedians like Keaton and Chaplin) until he arrives at an already predestined end. Contrasting the usually dominant nihilism in this genre is a feeling of otherworldliness, an almost transcendent atmosphere, impressively created through the assistance of cameraman Christopher Doyle.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film billed as a drama/thriller shares thematic aspects with
movies such as Mullholland Drive (2001), Donnie Darko (2001) and
Jackob's Ladder (1990), to name a few. IW also shamelessly steals from
some classic cinema, such as 8 ½ (1963) and The Shining (1980).
Let me explain...
On the surface, IW is a murder story, so there is drama; the thrills are muted though, almost somnambulant, and will annoy viewers with the slow pacing of the plot. But, there is a reason for that: to understand this narrative, the script and director force the viewer to fully experience the detailed world of a murderer on the run, especially Kyoji (Tadanabu Asano), a young man guilty of having an affair with the wife of his boss, Monk (Eric Tsang); and also, incidentally, guilty of killing her.
Monk, somewhat strangely, sends Kyoji off to Thailand to escape the fall-out from the murder of his wife; even more odd is that Monk appears unperturbed about his wife's death. So, Kyoji boards a ship bound for Phuket, where he meets a woman, Seiko (Tomono Kuga) with a small baby daughter. They become ship-board friends. Kyogi also has a frustrating time with his cabin and the deficiencies within that confined space continually re-surface to annoy him. Also during that time, we see Kyoji often staring at the cabin walls, or out to sea, or wandering around the cavernous ship which is remarkably light on other passengers. And, while watching Kyoji stare or wander about, we hear the same, repetitive, muted sound of two notes which are, from my recollection, exactly the same as the sounds we hear in 8 ½ when Guido (Marcello Mastroiani) is dreaming about his women, his work, his mistresses and so on.
At Phuket, Kyoji and Seiko part company; but Kyoji gets her phone number. He then goes to his assigned hotel to meet Lizard (Ken Mitsuishi), Monk's man in Phuket who will assist Kyoji in his new life. In his hotel room, Kyoji tries to settle in while we notice, on the mirror the word REDRUM ('murder' spelt backwards) in red exactly the warning on the mirror in the apartment housing the terrified family of Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) as he prepares to murder his wife and son in The Shining.
Coupled with those aural and visual clues are the odd even seemingly impossible things that occur on the ship and at Phuket e.g. repetitive scenes or flashbacks; all of which forces the viewer to continually question the reality of what's happening to Kyogi.
So, it's clear to me that Kyoji is at least dreaming about what he's already done. But, perhaps as in Mulholland Drive and others mentioned, he's also dying as his life flashes "in front of his eyes" before he succumbs. I'll leave you to decide for yourself and to find out exactly how it all turns out. The fade-out scene is, on the one hand, ordinary yet also suitably mysterious perhaps symbolically evocative of the fate of all humanity in the journey through life.
Hence, in the spirit of David Lynch and others, Pen-Ek Ratanaruang has constructed an interesting, albeit very slow, attempt to transcend the average type of thriller. The fact that he has copied various aspects from Lynch and other film makers is actually the most sincere form of flattery. The dialog is sparse, as befits a surrealist type of experience; so just watch this one for the visuals. On that aspect, the photography is adequate without being exceptional; but this is no Lawrence of Arabia (1962), is it? And the editing is suitably jerky and even mysterious to further add to the effect of unreality.
I've not seen other movies by this director. But, I'll keep on the look-out...
Overall, I give it six out of ten. Recommended, but not for kids.
February 27, 2012
I just want to add the interesting parallels to Pan-Ek's film "Last
Life in the Universe." Most of these are probably quite obvious, and I
suspect there are more subtle comparisons.
1) The lead character is or was involved with a Yakuza gang. 2) The similarity of the lead character's name Kyoji to Kenji (Last Life). 3) The name Noi and Nid used in both films 4) The reference to Lizard. 5) The atmosphere and music very similar. 6) The theme of death.
This is the type of film that would require a deeper analysis to uncover its finer details and meanings. I would agree that overall, it's not as strong a film as Last Life in the Universe. However, the mood created on the ship to Phuket was in itself, masterful, surreal, other-worldly. In fact, at one point I had thought that Kyoji had already entered hell, and had departed this world.
Last Life in the Universe is one of, if not the best movie I've ever seen (save for Trainspotting). Because of this, like many others, I tracked down Pen-Ek's other films and found this. I have to say that it was disappointing. Many here argue that those who did not like this film simple "didn't get it," because they don't have the mind or tastes for it. I'd have to disagree. If you appreciate Last Life then there's really no reason why you shouldn't be able to appreciate this, (had it good) as both films move at the same pace and have all the same people behind them. (I liked how they used the names Nid/Noi again, does he always do that?) Invisible waves looks the same, sounds the same, but for some reason just doesn't feel as good. Something is missing, something that could have been great was lost somewhere. Last Life didn't have much of a story but managed to be a masterpiece, and comparatively this film's story is much better but just doesn't work. One thing that really bugged me was the acting. All of it felt very fake; I was too often reminded that I was watching a film. The dialogue was poorly written, in my opinion, and probably contributed to that. Were Tadanobu Asano not in this I wouldn't even bother, even out of curiosity for Pen-Ek, as he is this films one and only saving grace. But even then he plays almost the exact same character as he did in Last Life, only a lot less interesting. All the ingredients for a movie like Last Life are here, but in the end it didn't just work.
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