The Isle | Chicago Reader

The Isle

Notorious on the festival circuit for its excruciating scenes of self-mutilation, this 2000 feature by South Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk traces the deepening sadomasochistic relationship between two lost souls living on a remote lake. Hiding from the police, a suicidal young man takes up residence in one of the rough houseboats that service vacationing fishermen; the caretaker of the business, a silent young woman who sells bait by day and her ass by night, takes a shine to the visitor, who ultimately rewards her attentions by kicking her repeatedly in the crotch. Critics have compared the film to Takashi Miike's Audition, and its sexual psychodrama also owes a clear debt to Nagisa Oshima's In the Realm of the Senses. But if I had to draw a parallel between Kim and another filmmaker, I'd have to choose Catherine Breillat (Fat Girl); both use their dazzling cinematic skills to dignify an utterly juvenile view of men and women. In Korean with subtitles. 89 min.

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