Tuesday 12 July 2011

A Tale of Two Sisters [2003]

In the last few years films from Far East Asian countries, especially Japan and Korea, have set the standards for horror movies – a fact substantiated by the number of American remakes they inspire. A Tale of Two Sisters, which can essentially be clubbed as psychological horror, is decidedly a part of that trend. Directed by Kim Jee-Woon, one of the most exciting Korean filmmakers of today, and inspired by an ancient folklore, the movie is not so much about supernatural elements as it is about exploration such themes as familial dysfunction, memory, loss and mental disintegration. The most noteworthy aspect about the movie is that the eerie and spooky moments it comprises of have been very well complemented by its melancholic tone and lush visuals. The plot begins with two closely-knit sisters arriving at an isolated house, located at the middle of nowhere, to stay with their father and step-mother. Not only would be criminal of me to reveal any more of the plot, it would also be exceedingly difficult for me to do so given its byzantine nature. The third act might seem too mind-bending for some and the climax especially cryptic and ambiguous – but in my opinion they added to the very essence of the film as this was anyway never planned to be an open-and-shut kind of work. The acting in this haunting mood-piece is also really good and engaging.

Director: Kim Jee-Woon
Genre: Horror/Psychological Horror/Family Drama
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea


Alex DeLarge said...

I really liked this one too! There are scenes that are just uber creepy but these exist to further the convoluted tale. I'm not sure it all makes sense (or is supposed to) but begs a second viewing. Once again you've inspired me:)

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Alex. Yes, the plot is delectably convoluted, and as you aptly mentioned, it doesn't really matter if one understands every angle of it - but that never really lessened the viewing pleasure.

Sam Juliano said...

I haven't yet seen this particular film, but admire JeeWoon as a formidable visual stylist who imparted this propensity and gift on the the likes of I SAW THE DEVIL and THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WEIRD, which are outstanding works. I am not at all surprised this TALE is memorable, and applaud your excellent capsule.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam. Jee-Woon, as you aptly stated, is indeed a very talented visual artist. In fact this was my second tryst with his films, the other one being Bittersweet Life which I quite loved and would strongly recommend to you (in case you haven't watched it). I've read a lot of praise for the 2 films of his that you've mentioned, though unfortunately I haven't managed to catch them yet.