Thirst

"Very Good"

Thirst Review


Besides the vampires, this is an oddly faithful adaptation of Emile Zola's novel Therese Raquin. Filmmaker Park directs with his usual eye-catching skill and attention to gruesome detail, and creates a story with strong emotional resonance.

Priest Sang-hyeon (Song Kang-ho) voluntarily enters an African monastery to help research a deadly disease. But the mysterious illness leaves him craving human blood. He finds peaceful solutions to this, but things get complicated when he meets the sparky Tae-joo (Kim Ok-vin), who he's known since childhood in the orphanage. She's still living with her adoptive mother (Kim Hae-sook), and is now married to her adoptive brother Kang-woo (Shin). When they plot to kill Kang-woo so they can be together, this is only their first step across the line to inhumanity.

Park tells this story in a remarkably straightforward way, weaving in otherworldly elements with raw earthiness that allows for some cool, low-key effects and lots of dry humour. This keeps things relatively grounded in reality, as does an emotionally open performance by Song Kang-ho as a man who is horrified at his new inner yearnings and desperately tries to create a worldview that works for him. Around him, the characters are all too selfish or nutty for us to care about them.

This makes it impossible for us to invest in Sang-hyeon's relationship with Tae-joo. Kim Ok-vin's performance is lively and constantly surprising, but this simply isn't a character we can root for. She's far too dark and scary for that, while everyone else is either naive or self-involved. And the story turns seriously sordid, so it's a good thing that Sang-hyeon is such a complicated, likeable guy. Even his one act of sheer nastiness is almost understandable.

Yes, while this film is packed with terrific scenes and fascinating characters, the uneven tone makes it hard to engage with. The mood veers back and forth from quiet and thoughtful to gruesome and frantic. Along with the technical expertise, there are fascinating themes in here, most notably about two damaged people who are drawn to each other against their better judgement. And ultimately, it's the theme that contrasts martyrdom with suicide that sticks in the mind.



Thirst

Facts and Figures

Run time: 133 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 30th April 2009

Box Office USA: $0.3M

Distributed by: Focus Features

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Fresh: 88 Rotten: 20

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Ahn Soo-Hyun

Starring: as Noelle, as Bryan, Mercedes McNab as Atheria, Brandon Quinn as Tyson

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