Oasis (2003)

TOMATOMETER

Critic Consensus: Lead actress Moon So-ri's stand out performance gives this harrowing film much of its power.

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Movie Info

Korean director Lee Chang-dong's drama begins on the day that Jong-du (Sol Kyung-gu), a mentally handicapped young man, is released from prison. He is immediately arrested again for being unable to pay a restaurant bill, and his brother bails him out and sets him up with a menial job and a place to live. The crime that originally landed Jong-du in prison was a hit-and-run accident that resulted in the death of an old man. One day he goes to visit the victim's family, and meets Gong-ju (Moon So-ri), the man's daughter, who has cerebral palsy. After a disastrous first meeting, the two begin an unlikely love affair that exposes the callousness and uncomfortable secrets of both of their families.

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Critic Reviews for Oasis

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (13)

A loving and lovely film.

Sep 9, 2004 | Rating: B+

A brave film in the way it shows two people who find any relationship almost impossible, and yet find a way to make theirs work.

Aug 27, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

The actors' scenes together are simultaneously abrasive and oddly gentle: two untamable people trying to stabilize each other.

Aug 6, 2004 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Perhaps the most harrowing screen romance ever.

Jul 9, 2004 | Rating: 4/5

Lee's humanitarian plea for tolerance is one of the most original films of the decade, and Moon provides the soul.

Jun 25, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

A love story of two young people marginalized by family and society that becomes a scorching indictment of the indifference, cruelty and hypocrisy of those institutions as the couple inevitably come into profound conflict with them.

Jun 17, 2004 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Oasis

½

I'm starting to think that Lee Chang Dong might be South Korea's best kept secret. Oasis is another stunning film from one of South Korea's premiere directors. Recently released from prison, Jong-Du squeezes his way back into the care of his family who in turn attempt to weave him into the fabric of society. Yet, no matter how carefully you attempt to braid two dissimilar fabrics, let's just say burlap with calico, it just simply doesn't piece together well. Regardless of intention, Jong-Du's family cannot help but judge him in relation to the rest of society. His inability to wait for others to finish their sentences before joining the conversation, among other matters, is a constant source of concern for his brother. Try as they might to force awareness into Jong-Du's mind, some adhesive that helps to bind him mentally to the world at large, Jong-Du still marches to the beat of his own drum. So when he meets the acquaintance of Gong-Ju, a woman suffering from cerebral palsy & the neglect of her own selfish family, they have no problem carving out their very own space. Creating an oasis in a climate that can so easily run you dry. Although they suffer a rocky start, the two find in each other a comfort. A way out of the limitations that confine them; whether they be imposed by one's own body or by others. Many Americans will most likely draw parallels to "The Other Sister", a film that touches on similar themes, but does so in a way that uses the societal impropriety of the mentally handicapped as fodder for comedy. Formerly serving as South Korea's minister of culture & tourism, Dong knows all too well that no two spheres can coexist peacefully. Two salmon fighting against the current will not only agitate those who feel like they know the right direction in which to paddle, but the sheer strength of the rushing water will forcibly correct the wayward swimmers. Dong also shows that although these characters may not be fully aware of the consequences of their actions, they are not free from responsibility. They are broken people who make questionable decisions as well, just in different ways. A decision that gives these characters more dimensions than most filmmakers could handle while still having the audience care about their plight. The success of this film hinges on lot on the performances. Moon So-ri's turn as the young woman is particularly stirring. It isn't a particularly flattering or a scene stealing performance (see Sean Penn in I Am Sam), it is precisely what it needs to be; a woman emotionally and physically crippled, unable to break out of the restraints of her disorder. Yet it is handled with such restraint that one cannot help but be left in awe. From film to film, Lee Chang Dong has shown that he is truly capable of nuanced human dramas regarding complicated issues. I stated before that he might be South Korea's best kept secret. But if he keeps up this streak of stellar work, he won't be able to remain a secret for much longer.

Reid Volk
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

This is one of the most painfully beautiful movies ever made. Oasis is the story of a man that is responsible for the death of a man in a drink driving accident. Upon his release from prison he goes to the man's children to apologise. Oasis has no easy emotions or answers. Characters are complicated and real, with a young disabled girl gradually falling for a man that tried to rape her. It isn't an always pleasurable love story, it deals with difficulties and also acceptance. The performances are incredibly powerful. Each one captures their character and plays them out at a believable pace. This rare film manages to mix everything that is great and important about cinema.

Luke Baldock
Luke Baldock

Super Reviewer

A love story told in a brutally honest way. In the hands of someone else this could have failed miserable, it could had become another dumb feel-good fantasy love film. Yet here the movie remains so focused in what is doing, from start to finish, that is almost scary. A lesson in movie making, in acting and so on.

Tsubaki Sanjuro
Tsubaki Sanjuro

Super Reviewer

½

[font=Century Gothic]"Oasis" is a movie from South Korea about the relationship between two very unlikely people:[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]Jong-du Hong(Kyung-gu Sol) is a three-time loser. At the beginning of the movie, he has just been released from jail for involuntary manslaughter after two and a half years.(Specifically a hit-and-run accident.) He has also served time for assault and attempted rape. He is not particularly violent but is seriously lacking in any kind of impulse control and is quite childlike even though he is getting close to being 30. To call him the black sheep of his family is an understatement. He is only able to contact his family after his release because he could not pay a restaurant bill. After landing a job as a food deliveryman, he looks up the family of the man who was killed in the hit and run accident. He comes across the man's daughter:[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]Gong-ju Han(So-ri Moon) is severely afflicted by cerebral palsy. Her family is using her to obtain a nicer apartment. Meanwhile, she is left to her own devices which is how Jong-du Hong finds her.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]"Oasis" is a decidedly offbeat movie that is anchored by a truly great physical performance from So-ri Moon. She is so good that it is difficult to watch her at times. The movie seems to have a great deal to say about how handicapped people are treated by their families in Korea. But the movie is slighty undone by the occasionall bits of whimsy and fantasy.[/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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