Thursday, October 11, 2012

OldBoy


  No stranger to asian cinema, I certainly cut my teeth on I Saw The Devil, which was amazing in it's own right, but Oldboy definitely stands apart from the crowd as a very brutal and disturbing mystery of a much higher caliber.  The synopsis alone is striking. It's about a man who's locked up and kept prisoner in a private jail for 15 years... without ever being told why. Then, without warning, released. Thus he begins a bloody search for answers that will lead him down a terrible and mysterious path. The results of which will haunt him forever.

  It's not a lightweight movie obviously. It gets progressively disturbing. But it's also impossible to look away. The movie's mystery hooks you with it's atmosphere and raw energy as this man step by step discovers that he's in a game. Someone's sick game. They're playing with him, pushing him to the brink of insanity. An argument could be made he's there already.  Which is the big appeal of this film to me personally. Despite being a big mystery thriller, it's a character drama first and foremost that deals with big themes of trust, loyalty, and most importantly of all... revenge.

   It uses symbolism as much as it does clever and creative camera tricks and angles to bring out and highlight the emotional undertones in each scene. For example, when the main character finds his way into a sushi bar, and orders a live octopus to eat raw... and watching him just bite into this living creature, it seemed like a perfect expression of his anger and frustration.

  The movie is full of unexpected scenes, ranging from shockingly violent, to surprisingly touching. It balanced all it's various tones with ease and expertise.  As the mystery slowly unfolds, you find yourself increasingly engaged, with each new twist and turn, it pulls you in farther. And as everything is revealed, piece by piece, we see the main character go through crazy things, and witness his desperate and often violent behavior.  Its quite stunning to be honest.  Everything from the music, to the framing of each shot, it all heightens the tension and the overall mood. It's an incredibly atmospheric film that also manages to use voice overs to a surprisingly effective degree. Which is pretty rare.

  The end is quite shocking, and the movie is an amazing tale about vengeance and how it can destroy lives. Some may hate the twist, but if you really think about it, there is  no other way to end it which would justify the story. It was perfectly twisted. And it will make or break your opinion of the movie. I for one loved it. As it often escapes words for me, and I'm tip toeing around the meat of what I'd normally review because once you know too much about Oldboy, it will ruin it for you. Let the premise grip you and watch it.

   Not enough movies nowadays provoke their audiences, or even evoke strong emotions. If you hate it, then so be it. If you love it, awesome. But you should see it if it has snagged your intrest. The hype isn't for nothing. It's pretty powerful. Whether you'll like how it gets there, is another story entirely. But it's akin to modern mythology and in broad strokes has the feeling of an old greek fable about revenge.  I loved it.

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