Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 29


Audience Score

User Ratings: 707
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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 (29) | Top Critics (13)

Audience Reviews for Oasis

  • Jan 24, 2012
    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 V Super Reviewer
  • Apr 20, 2010
    Slow moving drama at times, I think this story says more about the attitudes and treatment about the handicapped in S. Korea than about any love story between the two leads. I thought the film was a bit too ordinary, but the scenes where So-ri comes out of her body and acts like a vibrant human being were quite beautiful and special. The acting is excellent, especially by Kyung-gu Sol. He is one of the finest performing today, and don't miss him in his two signature films, "Public Enemy" and "Another Public Enemy".
    alan j Super Reviewer
  • Nov 19, 2009
    This is the second movie of my epic marathon. You know one of the problem that I have with the movie, whose unnamed sequel comes out today, was that the 2 main characters felt fake and superficial. They just didn't feel real enough to where I could care enough about the relationship for me to want it to succeed. The characters feel so fake that I don't even believe that they might exist even in their own fictional universe. I don't buy into any of their struggles as a couple and one of them is a fucking vampire, so that should lead to some interesting shit but...WRONG. Again it's just a relationship based on superficiality, just like most high school relationships. This movie is the exact opposite of that crappy high school crap. I have an appreciation for Korean movies. From the movies that I've seen, they are usually very character driven and the movie really relies on its characters to carry you through the movie and not senseless action scenes and stereotypical characters. I think that's what all movies should be about, to be honest. Not that there's anything wrong with action movies, as I enjoy all kind of movies, but movies that stand the test of time usually stand the test of time because of its characters. This is just a great movie actually and I definitely found myself rooting for these characters and that they would find some happiness in the end, that's something I don't do a lot in movies, especially in romance movies. The thing is, the two main characters in this movie feel real, so I buy into their struggles as a couple, which makes me cheer for them because all they want is to be happy. Also I really got angry at what happened in the movie at the end, like angry at what happened to the character and how unfair it all was, not angry AT the movie itself just at what happened. That also does not happen a lot when I watch movies. The acting is really fantastic and that's really why this film succeeds in many levels, because honestly the plot of the movie isn't awe-inspiring nor is it complex, but the fact that the actors are so fantastic in their roles it makes the movie a joy to watch. I have two real complaints though, near the end of the movie it just got really overdramatic, but you gotta take the good with the bad and I tolerated it. It wasn't like it screwed up the movie for me, but it was just a tad bit melodramatic. And the picture quality of the dvd isn't great, you can see pixels and that's never good, but that's not a complaint about the movie itself just about the company that made the dvd. With that said, this movie is just great stuff and despite the fact that it has NO special features whatsoever I'm still happy I bought this movie.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Jul 28, 2009
    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 B Super Reviewer

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