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Oasis (2002)

Year: 2002
Director: Lee Chang-Dong
Country of Origin: South Korea
Rating: R (in my opinion)
Time: 132 mins

When I first stumbled upon the trailer of Oasis, I knew immediately that this fearless film about two social outcast who fall in love had the capacity to marinate deep within one's soul and shake the foundation of one's existence. Lee Chang-dong (Secret Sunshine, Poetry) who has been consistent and passionate to the stories of outcasts, tells Oasis with unflinching bravery that with every passing frame, your heart will painfully break, piece by piece. It is at the end of the film when your emotions are beaten to a pulp and left with the substance of mush that the beauty of the story is felt. 

The film opens with Jong-du (Sol), a socially unaware, arrogant, obnoxious man who just got out of prison for manslaughter after he accidentally hit a man on the road. Out of sheer "politeness" he decides to visit the family of the victim to deliver a fruit basket when Jong-du lays eyes on his daughter, Gong-ju (Moon), a woman severely disabled by cerebral palsy. Both abandoned by their families and shunned in society, two outcasts fall in love despite their handicaps to complement and strengthen each other's weaknesses. He is mentally handicapped while she is physically inept and together they make a pair who defies society norms and lives life whimsically oblivious. Lee Chang-dong continue to tell narratives of the marginalized outcast of Korea, who is residing in a country populated with citizens that evade and reject anyone out of the norm especially the handicapped and socially unfit. 

So-ri Moon gives the performance of a lifetime as Gong-ju which translates to princess in Korean. The unbearable struggle of everyday life is shown as she is imprisoned in her body without the freedom of speech and movement. Then suddenly, with such lucid beauty, the film extends into her imagination, her only outlet to liberty. In her mind, she acts out scenarios of herself as a healthy normal woman whether she is teasing Jong-du or dancing with elephants. Their love is thwarted by the interference of their family, where they are eventually held captive whether it is in jail or in their body but they allow themselves to reunite with such untainted virtue in an oasis state of mind. A

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