Bakjwi (2009)

“Bakjwi” /Thirst (2009)

Fantasporto 2010



Sometimes the post-viewing of a film can be affected by whatever films you see in the meanwhile. By post-viewing i mean the thinking you give it in the hours, days, weeks, after you saw it

I was anticipating dearly this film. The new film of one of my favourite directors working today. Wook Park impresses. He masters the visual vocabulary he chose, and to which he added a few new terms. And he is a masterful storyteller, which in our contemporary world of cinema means he cares (at least) as much for the story he is telling as he cares for what shape he will choose to deliver it to us.

But in the meanwhile, i got on a new chapter of a personal quest to dig into Orson Welles. He fascinates, impresses, changes you. And besides being also a master of his own visual kingdom, he is one of the best narrative manipulators ever, and so, an unbeaten storyteller. Welles and Park are from different worlds. Whereas Welles projects from the inside, to the world, Park projects himself into his projects. He shapes his films according to his intuition, when Welles intuits the films inside him. That i was able to figure this out already rewarded my reflection.

Now to this Thirst. Park is in between phases. He admits it. After his rewarding and life-altering revenge trilogy, he now looks for something new, some new shapes he can explore, some new frames he can create. So, i’ll take this, and the film before this, as experimental pieces, where he expected to find a worthy track to follow. I assume it may be mentally exhausting to work with such intensity on such intense and filled films like the trilogy, especially Oldboy, a very important film.

So he derives to something that on a ground level may be called romance. But on a cinematic level, i think what Park is doing is again playing on the (pre)conceptions the audiences will have, and pull us the rug the very moment we feel comfortable enough over it. Now he plays with the romantic film, and in this case, the vampire film.

This film is, however, a relative failure. The strings of this master of puppets are not as masterfully pulled as in Oldboy. There, the trick was to hide from us that we were the ones being manipulated, by ostensibly depicting the manipulation of the main character. We thought we had everything coming. It worked because the mechanisms were hidden, the manipulator not revealing until it was needed to throw us down with our convictions. Here we see it coming very soon. I suppose the hints of comedy that we see mixed with the romance, and the vampire thing, are a bit too much, and they reveal the structure of the film to us.

Other than that, i feel that the intention was to turn the blood bits into a parody of the vampire genre, and contrast that to a subtle but really interesting love story, one that springs out of different sensitivities than my western ones, but which can universally be reckoned.

It’s so nice to do this, to follow a master’s career while it still has so many unwritten chapters. Well, so does Orson’s, but his bricks are built. Here we have a new brick to support Park’s unique vision. I hope he does well in his new phase.

Oh, there is a small sequence with feet. The bare feet girl is picked up by the vampire who takes out his shoes and literally places her feet in them. we see it all from the floor perspective of the feet. Beautiful.

My opinion: 4/5

This comment on IMDb


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