Seom - The Isle

Director: Ki-duk Kim

Writing Credits: Ki-duk Kim

Suh Jung .... Hee-Jin
Yoosuk Kim .... Hyun-Shik
Sung-hee Park .... Eun-A
Jae Hyun Cho .... Mang-Chee
Hang-Seon Jang .... Middle-aged man

Although this film was made in 2000, I just saw it recently. It's another product of the South Korean film industry, which has lately been producing some true gems.

As I saw written somewhere, it does a really nice job merging the omnipresent beauty of the landscape with the occasional extreme violence endured by the main characters (often self-inflicted).

The story takes place in a remote, placid lake (or so it seems), where there are set up, floating over buoys, a set of small compartments in the shape of houses, each with its own colour, with the purpose of being rent by fishermen.

On the shore of said lake, there's a small house, where the caretaker lives. She's a reserved girl, doesn't talk and subdues herself to everything the customers demand (yes, she even allows the customers to have sex with her--allows being here the key word, for she seems to be emotionless about it). On the other hand, she is often found sitting on her porch with a thousand-yard-stare, or doing mischief with a knife.

Then, along comes a quiet and mysterious man, who seems to be fleeing from his past, and he starts having some kind of a relationship with the lake-keeper, which in turn leads to...

Although I didn't find this a bad movie, really, I wouldn't call it great, either. Some scenes were charged with beauty, but overall I found there was something that eluded me (or simply wasn't there). Maybe it got something to do with the long silences, or perhaps it's just that I'm not so comfortable with South Korean culture. The young actress was really pretty, and she somehow manages to keep so throughout the movie, even when she's scrubbing the floor or killing a hooker in love. As I have implied (I think!), there isn't a lot of action happening, at least on the outside (as for the inside of the characters, I really couldn't tell, they were so drawn inward), so you should avoid it if you like fast-paced, action-packed movies.

Who might enjoy this film? People with fish-hook fetishes.