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Morality Tale With A Vampiric Twist,
This review is from: Thirst [DVD]  (DVD)
Park Chan-wook has set cinema alight in the past few years. Delighting many with his densely plotted and original work. "Thirst" beguiled the Cannes film jury (as did "Oldboy") and it's clear to see why they were so impressed. What plays out over its duration is a beautiful meditation on guilt and sin.
This is a movie imbued with a sense of Catholic guilt. The central character, a priest played by Song Kang-ho, begins to question his faith and decides to take part in a dangerous medical experiment. The result of this is that he takes on the qualities of a vampire. He meets with a former friend from school whose mother takes pity on him and offers him a place to stay. Living with the mother and her son is a girl they had taken in as child and now, married to the son, she acts as a servant/slave to the two. The priest is fascianted by her and with his new perceptions now attacted to her - a mortal sin for a priest.
So begins the journey of the two central characters. Although ostensibly this is a vampire movie it is imbued with a deep sense of Catholic guilt. The morality here is explored, identified, and destroyed. Chan-wook's film looks at the consquences of this. On one level the behaviour of the priest is shocking, but the film is much more conservative in its approach to its subject matter. When the girl, played enigmatically by Shin Ha-kyn, also crosses the moral divide she too is haunted by guilt, despite her lack of faith. Its sense of the consequence of transgression is clearly indicated.
The movie is beautifully shot and moves at a gentle pace throughout its two plus hours. This isn't one of those predictably violent vampire films although there is a fair ammount of blood shed in closing part of the film. For many horror fans this may feel too sedately paced and confusing. That's probably due to the vampiric plot being an opportunity to explore the key theme of actions having tragic, deep rooted consequences. Here the film's meditative pace and feel occupy exactly the right place. An unusal and atmospheric piece of work from a man who is still definately at the top of his game.