Thursday, September 3, 2009

Quick Thoughts On Thirst

THIRST came out in DC a few weeks ago and I caught it. It's pretty good but suffers in comparison to Park Chan-wook’s best films (OLDBOY, LADY VENGEANCE, his chapter in THREE… EXTREMES). I think my harshest criticism of THIRST would be that it’s somewhat bifurcated, and the 2nd half doesn’t really make good on the first half. Park is one of my favorite directors and THIRST is a very good movie, but I don’t think it’ll go down as a classic.

The first half is slow and contemplative, about a priest who becomes a vampire. He tries to reconcile his beliefs with his newfound bloodlust, essentially trying to be a human vampire. But is it truly in man’s nature to be good, and once you taste the forbidden fruit, can you go back etc etc?

The second half is more baroque and entertaining, but disappointingly drops a lot of the moral/philosophical questions it raised in the first half, and it becomes more of a standard murder/guilt story (this half is apparently based on a French novel from the 1800’s that had nothing to do with vampires). It’s a lot of fun because Park goes overboard on the visual style, and the movie becomes increasingly more violent and darkly humorous, but my problem is that it doesn’t fulfill the promises made in the first half.

Still, Park is a peerless craftsman, and there are a lot of wonderful sequences. In particular, there’s a scene where the protagonist seduces the heroine by cradling her in his arms while he leaps from rooftop to rooftop, where the camera stays on her face the whole time, that is evocative and romantic in a way that puts supposed romantic-vampire bullshit like TWILIGHT to shame. I just felt that THIRST doesn’t quite dig to the heart of its characters and themes the way Park’s best films do.

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