Bakjwi [Thirst] (2009)

Director: Chan-wook Park
Writer: Chan-wook Park, Seo-Gyeong Jeong
Based on: Émile Zola‘s novel Thérèse Raquin (rather loosely)
Cast: Kang-ho Song, Ok-bin Kim, Hae-suk Kim, Ha-kyun Shin, In-hwan Park

Priest Sang-hyeon (Kang-ho Song) volunteers to participate in a medical experiment to find a vaccine for an infectious disease. But instead of helping science, Sang-hyeon gets infected with vampirism. But with a growing lust for blood, there are also other desires that are stirring within him. And in his childhood friend’s wife Tae-ju (Ok-bin Kim), whose relationship with her husband Kang-woo (Ha-kyun Shin) and his mother Lady Ra (Hae-suk Kim) is rather strained, he finds just the person he wants to fulfill those desires with.

This is a strange little film. I struggled a bit with it, but I was nevertheless drawn into its atmosphere and story.

I have to say that I had a little difficulty with the transitions in this film. They are really (and I mean really) abrupt. Maybe some of these things are more self-explanatory within the Korean culture, but personally, I caught myself thinking a few times, “Uhm, what’s going on? Ah, so that happened? Maybe off-camera?”

This pulled me out of the story a few times, but it also made for a weirdly enchanting rhythm. And I think “weirdly enchanting” is a quite apt description of the entire film.

The characters were really interesting. Especially Tae-ju was a fascinating mixture of victim and aggressor that you rarely get in any characters at all, but much less women. And I thought that the dynamics between her and Sang-hyeon were fascinating, too. Not exactly what you’d call healthy, but fascinating.

In the end it was their relationship, and the wicked sense of humor that surfaced from time to time, that kept me interested. And even though the movie sometimes has its lengths, it pays to watch it until the end, where said sense of humor comes to its glorious climax.

Summarising: Strange, but pretty cool.

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