Invisible Waves (2006) Poster

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10/10
Don't miss the point.
Andrew Agnew-Iler (sitethe)15 September 2006
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.
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Mainstream audience, look elsewhere
Harry T. Yung30 May 2006
Warning: 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.
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6/10
Visible Vengeance Against Invisible Waves
lisan gek5 May 2006
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.
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9/10
Grim story, great storytelling
xWRL23 April 2013
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.
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6/10
Gangster meets Art-house
TashC18 September 2006
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.
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8/10
Expectations
polysicsarebest12 February 2009
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.
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10/10
cinematography is flawless, visually stunning, slow paced, artsy, so definitely worth seeing
JackBauerVsSamFisher21 April 2007
I rented this movie at our local library, mainly because of Asano Tadanobu. (One of my favorite Asian actors because he fits in any role, and he's good looking.)

This movie is very artsy, the kind of movie you don't find in the videostore around the corner. Which is kinda sad, because this movie really deserves to be seen. It's more of a visual experience than a movie, I think. The photography is so beautifully done, that it's almost superior to the story and the characters. (Which I like because I study photography :) I will definitely add Christopher Doyle to my favorite cinematographers list.

I haven't seen such a moving (as in: kinda sad) slow paced movie since David Lynch' The Straight Story. You just have to sit back and relax. Turn off your cell phone, dim the lights, so you're not disturbed in any way. Now you're able to follow the characters through abandoned towns, a mysterious ship and in the end, the world of the criminals. This movie really does something to your state of mind. Mine got filled with melancholy. And it's all because of the camera. This sort of cinematography is totally not Hollywood, and maybe that's why (in my opinion) Asian movies are sometimes better in quality. (OldBoy, Infernal Affairs, Hero, to name a few.)

I've read negative comments on the message boards, and I just don't get it why people don't like this movie. If you're used to teenage horror movies, then I sure do understand. But any serious movie lover should see this, because this movie has that little touch that I miss often when seeing movies. This one has humor, sadness, all the elements that make a movie great. It just doesn't have the usual pace. Let's just say it's the complete opposite of Fox' "24". But that's not a reason to bash it. This was done on purpose and for this movie and it's theme and the main character that we follow throughout the movie, it works perfectly. It deserves a 10 because in it's way it's refreshing, and I hope to see more of these in the future.
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9/10
great movie!
nhumdorn13 May 2006
i watched this movie before i read its script (which came out not so long after the movie released in the theater in Thailand ) and i can say that this movie is so great even though the story is not so catchy so people who cannot sit and stare at something not so fun may feel extremely bored. i think asano didn't understand the meaning of the character for this story. he seems to act too relax which is none sense if you were kyoji., you killed , cut a woman, you still can walk normally? no way. but even though his acting for this movie is not as good as last life in the universe but still we can aim the meaning of the story to a different direction not as prabda(the script writer)'s imagination.

who gonna love this movie or not is not important but what i think is they are so team. they should make more movies together and i hope later movies will be more surprisingly good!
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6/10
If you've already seen Last Life, chances are you'll be disappointed.
Mothroom3 July 2007
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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10/10
Invisible Waves
J_J_Gittes18 January 2011
Warning: 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.
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8/10
Comparison to Last Life in the Universe
rockyes15 October 2007
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.
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1/10
Tides of pretension
Bribaba25 July 2006
I would like to endorse the 'nutshell' review of this terrible film. I saw it at the Festival of Asian Cinema in Delhi, partly to escape to the heat but even the humidity of a Delhi summer day would have been preferable.

Slow, meandering and, Chris Doyle's camera-work excepted, extremely amateurish. In fact, Doyles work serves to remind you just how awful the script is. You have to feel sorry for the actors as they don't appear to know what's going on anymore that the audience.

I was never of a big fan of the director's previous film, The Last Life in the Universe, but nothing prepared me for this.
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6/10
Where a young man's romantic dream turns into nightmare.
Roger Burke26 February 2012
Warning: 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
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1/10
Bloated and pretentious
peter_hk3 May 2006
Invisible Waves is the first film I watched at the recently re-opened Picture House cinema on Hardy Street in Singapore. It is a good thing that there is a venue that focuses on independent films, it will also hopefully interest those that have not had much exposure to productions created outside the Hollywood system.

However, if you make 'Invisible Waves' your first foray into this brave new world, I am afraid you will slam the door shut, lock it, weld it and throw away the key.

There are some fantastic films out there, I have heard excellent feedback for 'Paradise Now' for example, but this is not on the same level.

Dick, the previous submitter's assessment is sadly spot-on. What is most frustrating is that this secondary-school, English-literature level script has no compelling story arc whatsoever and could have been told in less than half the time. Yet the film makers expect us to swallow this and find insight? I don't think so.

Production values are awful. Yes, it is small budgeted production but that is no excuse for not making a film look fantastic. Take 'Primer', made with a budget of only US$7,000 appears to have much higher production values AND has a story that requires multiple viewings to full appreciate it (watch it please).

In comparison, let's take the cruise ship in Invisible Waves as an example. It looked awful. Not just the lead character's accommodation as he was staying in a budget room at sea level, but the entire ship. Why would any mafia/triad boss send his mistress on a ship like that for a holiday? Plus, the ship did not appear to be moving at all. Go production values!

As I mentioned previously, there is no story. I don't care how much symbolism there supposedly is but watching the protagonist get lost on a ship followed by his hotel room in Phuket for over an hour is completely and utterly dull.

The acting is uniformly appalling. The cinema audience I watched this with began snickering and giggling at all the wrong spots in the second half. Clearly, they were trying to keep themselves amused and occupied by finding humour while this slow, painful torture unfolded before them.

I can sympathise with them.

Save two hours of your life and please watch something else.
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4/10
A Nutshell Review: Invisible Waves
DICK STEEL25 March 2006
If this is going to be someone's maiden entry into Pen-Ek Ratanatuang's movies, then I dare say that he's not going to win any new fans with this piece of crap. Might even lose the old ones too. Not that I've watched all his films (missed the retrospective during the symposium last year), but Invisible Waves was a rude introduction.

It's basically an extremely weak piece of storytelling, with a non-existent, juvenile story. I equate it to a primary school kid's first composition, and the worst kid in class can come up with something more imaginative and interesting. The story does not engage at all, and the characters, you'd wish that they all die to save you the misery of trying to understand them.

So what if it's lensed by Christopher Doyle? Here, his images come up poorly. While the technique might work with Wong Kar Wai's movies (at least there's a decent, understandable story), someone should advise Doyle that one technique doesn't always necessary fit all. It makes you come across as a one trick pony. The sea, very interesting to look at? If you have meaning to it, fine, but there isn't. Oh, the characters walk out of the frame and you only hear voices. That's cool? No, what's with that dumb ship hull in the frame? It makes you wonder if it's done for the sake of doing it, rather than to go back to the old school method of properly tracking a scene.

And what of the weak story? For the first time, I'd say don't trust all the synopsis out there, even if it's IMDb.com. It makes it sound more interesting, and could probably be filmed in a better way by an amateur filmmaker. Kyoji (Asano Tadanobu), a Japanese chef cum hit-man living in Macau, is having an affair with his boss's wife. He's instructed to kill her, and like all obedient servant, performs the deed, and like all Hong Kong mafiaso movies, he has to take a hike to another country after the hit.

Which brings him to Phuket, Thailand, but not before actually having to spend an hour's worth of run time doing absolutely nothing on board a ship (which does not move by the way - tells you how good the production values are). It plays out like an unfunny, contrived episode of Mr Bean, where everything that could go wrong, would go wrong, with repetitive tired dialogue of having to deal with an unresponsive reception (makes you wonder if Asians are that dumb). He meets a single mother called Noi (Kang Hye-Jeong, I think pan-Asian collaboration getting hip these days, even if they speak horrendously in English), who is so weak a character, you could write her off the script as she does absolutely nothing, even at the ending (hello, we got a situation here and you're admiring your damn ring?).

It doesn't matter anymore when Kyoji finally arrives at Phuket, gets into the same situation as while on the ship, gets robbed (oei, you hit-man, but you're one heckuva lousy one), and gets help from Lizard, who turns out to be his hunter, tasked to silence Kyoki. But they sure beat around the bloody bush to get to this point. And from there, you would've wondered that in any reel or real world, the entire scenario as played out from that point all the way to the finale, is hokey. It's poor storytelling, it's bad script, it's utter crap. I also credit this film with having one of the weakest mob boss villain, with no credibility, and the actor playing him, zero expression. If I can give out the equivalent of the Razzies, this movie will win 11 of them - bad screenplay, bad acting (times 4), bad direction, bad cinematography, bad music, bad costumes, bad production design and bad picture.

The saving graces of the movie is actually the appearance of Hong Kong veterans Eric Tsang and Maria Cordero. Just the appearance, not their characters or what they do or say, just for that cheap laugh of "hey, I recognize them, what made them sign on the dotted line?" I think it's high time that filmmakers realize that pieces of crap doesn't equate to works of art. This is pretentious art at its worst. This is a horribly reeking piece of crap, it's still early into the year, but already a contender for worst movie. Save your money, and save your time - don't even bother watching this, even if it's a pirated free copy. Find a better movie to sit on the Picturehouse's Oscar chair.
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7/10
Can't ride this waves
kosmasp21 April 2007
What do I mean by that? Two things come to mind (although I'll let, better yet encourage you to interpret it in any way or fashion you like):

1) This movie (waves) does have a slow pace ... is this bad? I don't think so, but if you're used to mainstream movies and want some big bangs every other minute you are definitely wrong here!

2) This movie is also not supposed to be as entertaining as a mainstream movie (that's why you can't ride it). It's gritty and raw (not as a documentary, of course) and the camera let's you inside. You won't get pretty pictures, but you will get shots that feed the mood of our main characters.

You will also get a man on his journey (literally and philosophical). A great ending, that some might not like (too quiet), but there could not be any other ending ... imo!
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2/10
Dullsville
livesley881 May 2009
Some of the reviewers of this film seem to think that if you "get it" there's some secret door that is opened and you have a great movie. What counts in a movie is not getting its message, but whether it holds together, and whether it offers a vivid experience. The cinematography, the acting, the dialog all play a part but can't be isolated.

This film starts out strongly. I liked the scenes with the hit man and his boss's wife before he kills her (not inadvertently as the synopsis states) But then the movie simply becomes aimless as if the screenwriter forgot he had a story to tell. The comedy of errors on the boat isn't really that funny and the dialog between the hit man and the single mother is terrible! Equally terrible is the confusing chain of events in Phuket, the acting of the hit man's boss and the implausible ending where the hit man seemingly gets tired of life.

Ultimately, this is a movie full of cardboard characters. We never really understand how the main character is thinking or even feeling. He could be drugged, or perhaps a little slow.

Aside from Chris Doyle's cinematography, this film is a waste of time.
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4/10
A boring review of an even more boring film
edchin200628 September 2008
Did someone say boring and pretentious? Am I saying anything which has not been said before but better? How can I better state the obvious? Can I predict how foolish you'll feel after sitting through this after being warned? Until, of course, you ascribe a deeper meaning to this opus.

To do justice to the film, I watched it twice. Not that I was searching for the deeper meaning which eluded me the first time... It put me to sleep the first time.

This may be the director's private joke, or a way to thumb his nose at the critics as Picasso was wont to do. But I'd like it a whole lot better if the critics would 'fess up and say "I don't know if it's a joke, but I don't get it. See it for yourself if you don't mind sitting through something boring and pretentious."
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8/10
the happiest horror film ever made
Big D26 January 2007
Shot with copious amounts of atmosphere and subtle detail to the most mundane( The directors specialty,) this feels like a J-horror movie but with one difference. We care about and generally like all the characters. Good people do bad things.This is true to real life. Coincidence is not used as a plot device, for it doesn't unravel or reveal rather then connect the characters leaving no alterior motive other then the shear act of randomness. Doyles photography is amazing and fluid as the sea(another main character) and is darkest during the day. Note, on te boat all the Windows are covered letting in only slivers of light....Genius. The best director to come out of Thailand.Period...
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4/10
Art-House Snobbery 101
ebossert13 February 2009
A review of this caliber is long overdue, not necessarily for Invisible Waves in particular, but for every boring film that's ever been made (think Tsai Ming-liang). Quite frankly, I'm sick and tired of Art-House Snobs defending movies such as this by parroting their favorite talking point, which is nothing more than a hand-waving just-so projection of immaturity onto their critics. The typical Art-House snob will blindly assert the critic as being riddled with Attention Deficit Disorder. Needless to say, their line of reasoning is not only childish, but completely illogical.

How do you identify an Art-House Snob? Easy.

1. Find a film that you really enjoy, but is paced as slow as molasses in January.

2. Find the most boring Art-House film you've ever seen in your life.

3. Post a comment or thread criticizing it.

4. Anyone who attempts to diagnose you with Attention Deficit Disorder can now safely be referred to as an Art-House Snob.

The aforementioned strategy is flawless. No one can possibly claim that you have attention deficit disorder because of Step 1. If they are careless enough to make that assertion, you can simply cite that excruciatingly slow film that you like so much as unequivocal evidence that they are dead wrong. And the more films that you can cite to your defense, the more you can make them look embarrassingly stupid. Just check out my user profile recommendation listing. There's so many slow-paced films on that list, I'm essentially untouchable.

In like manner, since they've made a factually incorrect knee-jerk reaction to your justified criticism, a red flag emerges that smacks of Art-House Snobbery, because the most obvious symptom of that sad psychological state is the inability to concede to the dullness of any particular Art-House film. You must understand that to these people, NO Art-House movie can ever be boring. It's essentially beyond their limited elitist comprehension.

So what about Invisible Waves in particular. Well, the Snobs will tell you that the 45-minute debacle on the shady cruise ship – you know, the excruciatingly long part where Asano walks around aimlessly, gets attacked by a shower head numerous times, locks himself in his room, then argues with maintenance about it – was meant to provide an exposition on the "invisible waves" of consequences that befall those who do bad things in life. Never mind that the entire sequence is BORING AS HELL and occurs to the backdrop of ineptly executed character and storyline development. Then again, to the Snobs, film-making is less about entertainment than it is about realism – so watching someone do their laundry for 20 minutes on screen is implicitly better than a well-executed light-hearted action-comedy. Go figure.

It's quite amazing how a content-less film miraculously becomes an "insightful masterpiece" when it can be safely classified within the drama genre, where everything and anything is a "breathtaking exposition on the human condition." One wonders why these same Snobs don't consider exploitation horror flicks as breathtaking expositions on human depravity, or action films as breathtaking expositions on the harmony between mind and body. Hell, most horror and action films have more content than Invisible Waves, yet you'd be hard pressed to find a Snob giving one of those films a 10/10.

Another interesting play comes from the reviews of Invisible Waves on IMDb, which serve as warnings to "mainstream" moviegoers to stay away from this film, as if that somehow helps to alleviate the suffering this film inflicted on this very UN-mainstream moviegoer. If the film sucks, why not warn EVERYONE? The reader may feel that I'm rambling a bit, but the problem of Art-House Snobbery is primarily a result of genre discrimination, and not the individual merit of a particular film. Therefore, this review is truly universal to all of those dull-as-dirt dramas/romances out there, so the harsh wording is not so much directed solely at Invisible Waves, but serves to bludgeon the hell out of trite-filled garbage like Viva L'Amour, What Time Is It There, On Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate, The Power of Kangwon Province, and Ashes of Time, just to name a few.

With that said, however, Invisible Waves is marred with uninteresting events, poor script-writing, and characters so paper thin they make their Hollywood counterparts look marginally credible (almost). Can anyone say that Asano's love interest is even remotely significant to this film? And Asano's character is so underdeveloped that his alleged "change of heart" is not only inconsequential – it's superfluous.

Maybe those 45 minutes on the cruise ship should have actually been used for something. Or perhaps Invisible Waves was made to symbolize the essentially invisible maturity of Asano's character.
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