man and woman laughing in the subway stationalr

Oasis
(Oasiseu)

Screening on Film
Directed by Lee Chang-dong.
With Sol Kyung-gu, Moon So-ri, Ahn Nae-sang.
South Korea, 2002, 35mm, color, 132 min.
Korean with English subtitles.
Print source: HFA

Moon So-ri delivers a powerfully intense and tender performance as a woman whose severe cerebral palsy has left her an outcast and pariah searching for an escape that is suddenly delivered in the most unlikely way: by the arrival of a sociopathic, and possibly mentally disabled stranger, who comes to apologize for an accidental crime that irreparably scarred her family. One of the key films of the Korean New Wave, Oasis hints at its potential to manipulate its characters, and its audience, through the mawkishness contained but never fully released in its emotionally charged story. It is a credit to Lee Chang-dong’s command of his material and artistic vision that Oasis becomes something else: a fable of two loners and social outcasts whose unlikely bond magically sparks the inventive and restorative power of love. 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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Moon So-ri, the Lives of an Actress

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A Rough Transcendence: The Films of Lee Chang-dong

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