Monday, August 4, 2014

Review: Oasis (2002)

Oasis (Review)
Lee Chang-dong/Sol Kyung-gu/2002
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...very daring and unique."

Recently released from prison after a stint for involuntary manslaughter, Hong Jong-du (Sol Kyung-gu), a mildly mentally disabled misfit, attempts to reconcile with the victim's family and finds himself developing a relationship with Gong-ju (Moon So-ri), the daughter of the victim.

Oasis isn't a traditional romance film. The romance in this film is definitely genuine, but different. Oasis follows Jong-du as he slowly develops a relationship with Gong-ju, who not only is the victim's daughter, but also suffers from severe cerebral palsy. Despite a rough start in their relationship, their romance feels sweet and genuine as it progresses. The outside interference from their respective families makes it more difficult than it should be, too. The ending of the film is hopeful -- it's a bittersweet glimmer of hope.

Oasis works very well as a romantic drama. It's very different from the usual, very daring and unique. The story may seem simple, particularly due to my summary, but it really is very deep. The characters are very complex. The themes, such as family, hypocrisy, irony, and mental illness, are very well crafted and blend seamlessly into the film. It's a subtle yet powerful film. And it gets stronger and stronger as it progresses. I think this is because the emotion is genuine rather than fabricated --this isn't a hopeless romantic tale, or a film that relies on somber music, genre clich├ęs or contrivances to create feeling -- it is feeling.

While watching Oasis I felt happiness, sadness, anger, and everything in between. The honest romance may make you smile, it may warm your heart. Some of the characters and their despicable actions will infuriate you. (The themes of hypocrisy immediately come to mind. I personally can't stand hypocrites.) It takes a while to get on its feet, starting with a slow introduction and generally moving at a slow pace, but the story is otherwise worth your patience.

The acting is superb. Sol Kyung-gu, who also stars in Peppermint Candy, is brilliant. Moon So-ri is also very impressive. The film is shot beautifully, I really liked the cinematography and camerawork. The music blends seamlessly with the film. The English subtitles on the Amazon Prime Instant Video stream are great -- nothing detrimental. Writer and director Lee Chang-dong masterfully crafts this drama with beautiful subtly; it makes a statement without hitting you over the head, and it works incredibly well as an emotionally-effective and creative romance film -- you won't find many films like this.

Overall, Oasis is a fantastic film. It's a very meaningful film and a very effective romance drama. It's one of the few films that can make you really feel and contemplate -- there aren't many films that do that nowadays. It is a bit lengthy and slow, though. Definitely recommended if you can tolerate a slow-pace and love these types of films.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Sex and nudity.

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