A recent development at LoveFilm is the decision to drop the limit for subscribers’ online viewing. It used to be four hours maximum per month, which is just two films. Of course, you’re required to pay for a couple of rental DVDs for this but, for some reason, we never seem to get around to watching them these days. Until this announcement, and times being what they are, I was beginning to doubt its value for money.
As with music, films are better enjoyed as a solitary experience. That’s how I came to watch movies on the iPad, I like the closed intimacy of the small screen and earphones. Last night, I chose,
What exemplary photography there is throughout this picture. One thing that I might do is pause the film anywhere and consider the captured still. How interesting does it look? Does it work outside the context of the drama? In this film, the composition, the colours, the mood, all seem spot on. The setting is otherworldly. The pace, despite the occasional violent incidents, is measured to suit, as tranquil as the water, dreamy almost.
Somewhere in the wilds of South Korea, there is a ramshackle haven where men getaway to spend days fishing on a lake. They hire “floats”, simple, painted sheds secured to rafts anchored in the middle of a lagoon.
Hee-jin is the forlorn, mute caretaker of this retreat, ferrying the men out and back, supplying them with their needs; provisions, fresh coffee, bait and prostitutes, sometimes providing the last service herself. The remains of a motorcycle lays semi submerged in a pond behind her shack on the shoreline. She appears abandoned, resigned to her fate, though not void of spirit. She moves through her watery world with the stealth of a water nymph, jealous, vengeful and violent towards the uncaring clients that cause her hurt.
Hyun-shik is a fugitive lying low, a perpetrator of a crime of passion, now contemplating suicide. Finding him hiding and weeping on his float one day, Hee-jin feels an emotional connection. Violently distracting him at the moment he attempts to end his life, there develops a mutuality: of sex, self-harm, protection and rescue.
Ultimately, past deeds catch up with them and they flee into a surreal final scene, symbolic, like an Ophelia, drowned in her scuttled boat, her pubis becoming the watery thicket of reeds in which he wades, searching for her.
This film has much symbolism, I’m sure, if only I knew what it means. The colours of the two floats, yellow and purple. Good and evil? Life and destruction? It’s a film that’s worth a second viewing, which I can do now the limit has been removed.
The Isle (2000)