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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thirst (2009)

For my latest, "What Movie Wednesday," feature, I offered up three movies, and let people vote for which one I would watch, tweet along to, and review.  The three movies that were suggested were:

  • "Legacy of Blood" (1971);
  • "Orphan" (2009); and
  • "Thirst" (2009)
 People spoke, and the movie chosen was the 2009 Korean vampire movie, "Thirst".

Father Sang-hyun is a priest afflicted with doubts about the value of the work he does with the sick and the dying.  Wanting to do something truly meaningful, he volunteers for a medical experiment in search of a cure for a deadly virus.  Infected by the virus, Sang-hyun receives a blood transfusion, and miraculously recovers. Soon afterwards, he meets Tae-ju- a woman married to an old family friend of Sang-hyun's.  Their attraction to one another pulls them down a dark path of darkness, violence and death...

I found "Thirst" to be a beautifully made movie.  Even the most mundane scenes of the characters playing mahjong is filmed in an almost poetic fashion at times- with so much being said without words.  Much of the story in these scenes are told through the glances characters give each other.  The rest of the camera work is equally well done, with interesting angles, and mixtures of close, medium, and long shots edited together to form a visually engaging piece.  Director Park Chan-wook knows what cameras are capable of doing visually, and it shows.

The story is really good too.  There are a few moments where it feels like things go off the track a bit, but they usually get right back on quickly.  Of course, part of that could be the fact that subtitles don't always match what is being said on screen.  The lead characters of Father Sang-hyun, and Tae-ju have depth and personality, and are different enough to add dimension to their relationship and the conflict they find themselves in.  While the other characters are mostly filler, they are still interestign in their own right, and do add enough to the story to make it a solid piece of work.

Song Kang-ho was great as Father Sang-hyun.  He brought such an earnestnes to the character, that you couldn't help but like him, and feel for his dilema.  Kim Ok-bin, as Tae-ju, balanced out Kang-ho wonderfully.  She was able to take a character that was not entirely sweet and innocent, and make you feel some compassion for her when you consider how she got to be who she was.  These two were just a remarkable team to watch on the screen- especially during the darkly humourous scenes.  The final scenes, especially were of note.

If I were to have a complaint with this movie, it would be with the special effects.  While I loved the way they dealt with the display of blood (it was really well done), I had some problems with the "wire-fu" elements.  These parts were a little jarring when compared with the visual smoothness of the rest of the film, enough so that my suspension of disbelief evaporated until those scenes were done.  Having said that, I was impressed with the blood flow in this movie.  A great exaomple is the "White Room Scene" where Tae-ju projectile vomits blood on her nice white floor.  The visual contrast was just great.

In an era where vampires are sparkly, angsty, emo teens, it's great to see a vampire movie where the vampire still has some bite to it- even if he does have some humanity left.  I'm going to give "Thirst" a spot in "The Good".

Special Shoutout:

I want to thank everyone that participated in my "What Movie Wednesday" feature.  I'll be doing it again March 14th.

Big thank you to the following people who voted for "Thirst":

  •  Dennis M Heald;
  • John O'Donnell; and
  • Matthew Little

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