Talk about lousy timing. I had a really busy week (I’m at work as of this post) so I really missed a lot of the movies in the 12th Cinemanila International Film Festival despite the extended screenings (it was originally from December 1 to 5 only but was extended until December 10).
But I made sure I wouldn’t miss the one movie that I definitely wanted to see on the big screen – Park Chan-Wook‘s masterpiece “Thirst” that won the 2009 Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize.
Thirst is the story of an incorrigible priest named Sang-Hyun (played brilliantly by Song Kang-Ho) who mysteriously transforms into a vampire after he volunteers in a blood transfusion experiment to find the cure for the Emmanuel Virus (EV). This transformation eventually leads to a spiritual transmogrification as well – with Sang-hyun trying to fight off his inner demons which manifest its totality in Tae-Ju (played marvelously by Kim Ok-Bin). Tae-Ju is an unhappy wife who attracts the desire of Sang-Hyun initially out of his desire to help and save her. Unfortunately he soon discovers that her painful experiences in domestic life has actually stripped her of sanity much less of morality – but not before he transforms her into a vampire thirsty for life, both physical and metaphorical.
If you could get over the somehow improbable and fantastical premise of a mysterious vampire blood transfusion, the movie rewards you with a throbbing cinematic experience of blood, gore, and sex. This may sound like standard fare for most vampire movies but what takes it a step higher is the characterization of its leads. Imagine an angel and a demon (both terrifyingly powerful figures) as they dance in a tug-of-war for control. This is how the relationship between Sang-Hyun and Tae-Ju is portrayed in this not your trashy I’m-a-pretty-vampire-movie-yes-Twilight-that’s-you flick. The cinematography is visually powerful and arresting as it provides scene after scene full of nerve-wracking intensity. Coupled with the restrained yet beautiful scoring that comes at the right moment to haunt you, it creates the perfect ode to humanity and how each of us is basically just trying to be good – no matter how bad the circumstances, or the people, in our lives may be.
Thanks to commitedtofilm for the video.