Film Review: The Isle
Ki-duk Kim has created yet another of his floating worlds in The Isle, a disturbingly ethereal film in which Hee-Jin, a mute woman operates a houseboat resort with the fringe benefit of prostitutes on call. When Hyun-Shik arrives seeking an escape from his dark past, Hee-Jin intervenes to thwart his attempted suicide.
In days to come, an oblique relationship grows between the two misfits, with Hee-Jin stopping by Hyun-Shik's floating cabin on her rounds aboard a leaky skiff to service the needs of the houseboat guests. But when Hyun-Shik begins keeping regular company with one of the prostitutes, Hee-Jin succumbs to the green-eyed monster of jealousy.
Written and directed by Ki-duk Kim, and cinematography by Seo-shik Hwang, The Isle stars Yoosuk Kim as Hyun-Shik, and Jung Suh as Hee-Jin, who speaks not a word throughout the entirety of the film. And although The Isle has drawn criticism and stirred controversy for its sometimes savage portrayal of sexuality, the film won five major awards on the international film festival circuit.
Reminiscent of Kim's other works, masterful cinematography, with characters adrift amid a watery, isolated setting as an overarching theme, and the dark mystery of primal sexuality as an undercurrent, The Isle examines the deep and sometimes desperate elements of human relationships. With barely a page of dialogue for a script, The Isle uses evocative metaphors, both visual and conceptual, to convey Ki-duk Kim's dark yet inspiring message. Watch if you dare.