Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Isle

Kim Ki-duk | 2000 | 89 min | South Korea

The Isle is considered by many to be Kim Ki-duk's entry into the horror genre, but I'd classify it as a romance before a horror film, and more than that, a black comedy. SOOOOOOOOOO black! So black that I almost don't want to admit to finding it funny. If you've seen the movie and disagree with my assessment of it as a comedy, please don't look at me funny the next time that you see me. Please do not cross to the other side of the street.

The film's setting is a small marina/village of a dozen or so floating huts on a lake which are meant to be used by fishermen, but which are also used by johns and their prostitutes, and by criminals in hiding. One such criminal takes refuge from the law in a hut after having killed his wife and her lover. The mute woman who runs/owns the marina takes a liking to him, and quietly begins to spend time with him at his hut. Their budding romance doesn't involve flowers, dinner dates, or tender moments though. It gets off to a rocky start when he tries to rape her. Upon her escape, he decides to call a prostitute to come and have sex with him instead. This shouldn't upset the marina owner, but it does, and she becomes jealous enough to eliminate her "competition". From then on, the two leads slowly fall in love through a series of pretty greusome acts on themselves, and one another. I don't want to spoil the fun, but this stuff ranks pretty high amongst Kim Ki-duk's most ridiculous shock moments. They're scenes that Todd Solondz or Neil Labute wouldn't have the nuts to put in their movies in a million years. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO dark! Like I said though, it is also a love story. A love story between two very isolated, lonely, and hurting people. Considering how gross things get, it's remarkable the level of strange beauty that the movie maintains.

The film's darkest moments walk the line of horror and comedy, and how you take them will depend on how sick your sense of humour is. I felt pretty gross laughing, but I laughed a lot. If I'd seen it in a theatre, it would have been a bad scene.

Oh, and a warning if you've got an aversion to fishing hooks. Don't even think about watching this movie, unless you've got a friend, lovah, or family member handy to pick you up off the ground, and possibly take you to a doctor.

Oh, the fish hooks. The very funny fish hooks. HEART!

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