Screening on Film
Directed by Lee Chang-dong .
With Sol Kyung-gu, Moon So-ri, Ahn Nae-sang.
South Korea, 2002, 35mm, color, 133 min.
Korean with English subtitles.

Oasis is a romance between a ne’er-do-well, who is either a sociopath or slightly mentally disabled, and a woman with severe cerebral palsy. The film walks a precarious tightrope between seeming manipulative toward its characters and its audience on the one hand, and mawkishness on the other. It is a credit to Lee’s command of his material that the film is ultimately neither manipulative nor mawkish. What sets the film above mere miserabilism is not so much its touches of magical realism as simply Lee’s distinctive style, which approaches the material with a sober deftness that keeps pity and sentimentality at bay.

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