Be forewarned, if you’re depressed about anything before watching this film, you may just end up trying to drown yourself in a lake afterwards. Luckily, I was in good spirits before my viewing, but afterwards I felt that my will to live had been tugged raw.
“The Isle” takes place entirely within a small Korean houseboat, fishing community on a lake. This is where people come to get away and relax. Groundskeeper, Hee-Jin, whose house is attached to the shore, serves as a ferrywoman as she carts the different characters passing through back and forth to their rented houseboats. This would leave a lot of room for interesting interaction if all of the characters weren’t either complete swine or soulless husks, wandering aimlessly wishing for death.
Hee-Jin, goes about her daily duties of shipping people around the lake in a fog of depression, not saying a single word to anyone. At night, she w****s herself out to her visitors for a little extra cash. All would seem lost for this young woman, but when Hyun-Shik, an ex-cop, arrives she finds in him someone that peaks her interest. Not that this brings a smile to her face or anything, but it at least shows that she has some sort of human quality left.
Watching him intently, she discovers him to be a depressed suicidal, just like her. Great! A match made in heaven, right? Well, maybe…thing is, neither of them talks a great deal and both of them are prone to sudden outbursts of violence. Let’s just say that their people skills are s**t.
So this bizarre courtship between would-be lovers continues in this often dreary, fog-shrouded atmosphere as Hyun-Shik makes a couple of failed attempts to off himself and Hee-Jin puts up with sexual abuse from the community.
If I have to say anything positive about this film it is that it’s gorgeously shot, demented and sad, but gorgeously shot. It’s just too bad that not a single likeable character resides within. After seeing this one, you’ll want to chew on a case of Zoloft.