Jong-su bumps into a girl who used to live in the same neighborhood, who asks him to look after her cat while she's on a trip to Africa. When back, she introduces Ben, a mysterious guy she met there, who confesses his secret hobby.
The film intercuts two stories, one in black and white, one in color. From 1965 to 1970, we follow Jeon Tae-Il, a poor young man who quits street vending to work in a garment factory. Amid ... See full summary »
Moon Chae-Ku and his friend Kim Chul try to bring the body of Moon's father back to his native Kwisong Island for burial. Their ferry is intercepted by resentful islanders who will not let ... See full summary »
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
We talk a lot about love in our society but often love is only acceptable to us if it fits our pictures. For example, the love of an older person for a younger, love between members of the same sex or between disabled individuals may make us uncomfortable and rejecting. Winner of five awards at the 2002 Venice Film Festival, Oasis, a film by Lee Chang-dong, stretches our comfort zone to the limit with a boldly unconventional portrait of the love of a mentally retarded young man for a woman suffering with cerebral palsy. The film is both emotionally honest and powerfully realized and will keep you pondering its implications for a long time. Moon So-ri's performance as Gong-ju is nothing short of astonishing. She goes through contortions to make us aware of the agony of her illness, but is never inappropriate or over-the-top. Her movements are spasmodic and uncoordinated and she appears to be in constant pain but there is a kindness in her face that allows us to see the person behind the pain.
As the film opens, Jong-du (Sol Kyung-gu) has just been released from prison and is freezing in his short sleeve shirt in the middle of winter. Jong-du is a sociopath who flaunts society's rules, unaware of or unconcerned with the consequences of his actions. Unable to hold a job and always on the edge, he has been in jail three times: for attempted rape, causing an accident while drunk (he took the rap for his elder brother), and armed robbery. On the spur of the moment, he decides to visit the family of the man killed by his brother and apologize. When he arrives, he finds a husband and wife moving out of their apartment, leaving the husband's seriously disabled sister, Han Gong-ju (Moon So-ri) for the neighbors to look after.
Jong-du is attracted to the disabled woman who seems barely in control of her own body. He returns for another visit but it sadly ends up in a disturbing sequence that is very difficult to watch. Surprisingly, Gong-ju invites him back once more and the two slowly begin a friendship based on their mutual feelings of isolation. He provides her with the closeness she desperately needs and she finds someone to care for, maybe for the first time in her life. As their relationship becomes known, both families are scandalized and, aided by the prejudices of society, transform the innocence of their love into something sick and twisted.
Oasis is a thought provoking film that does not stack the deck towards one point of view. It depicts the joy that the relationship brings to the lovers but also shows the understandable unease of the families about the fitness of a man who has demonstrated his emotional instability. The film shows the thin line between the desires of the individual and the needs of society and forces us to look at the disparity between the reality we see and that seen by others. While his ultimate message may be ambiguous, Lee makes us brutally aware that for many people life is a party to which they haven't been invited. Out of a willingness to have his characters confront the truth of a world that will be forever hostile, he offers a compelling vision of what love truly means and allows us to experience the oneness that defies reason and logic.
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