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Countries: South KoreaLanguages: Korean, EnglishBudget: $5,000,000 (estimated)
Castaway on the Moon Reviews
HONOLULU -- The stigma of suicide and serious neurosis hardly seems to make ideal material for comedy, yet South Korean writer-director Lee Hey-jun's empathy for his unusual characters engenders abundant humor in "Castaway on the Moon," the filmmaker's solo debut (following a co-directing credit on the 2006 feature "Like a Virgin").
Although theatrical prospects are slim beyond Asian territories, "Castaway" will find safe harbor with international film festivals and re-make opportunities may also be possible in receptive markets.
Mr. Kim (Jung Jae-young), a despondent, 30-something recently canned by his employer, dumped by his girlfriend and behind on his debts, decides to end it all by jumping from a bridge into Seoul's Han River. He's fully expecting that his inability to swim will prove his certain demise, so he's bewildered to recover consciousness after his plunge on the shore of Bam Island, an uninhabited nature refuge in the middle of the river.
As his initial despair gives way to survival tactics, Kim figures out how to catch fish from the river, plant a makeshift vegetable garden and construct a basic shelter. Life without bosses, debts and modern distractions seems to suit him, as his mood approaches something like satisfaction.
Signaling his newfound serenity, Kim alters his "Help" message written on an island beach to read "Hello," a greeting that's noticed onshore by the unrelated Ms. Kim (Jung Rye-won). The lonely young woman lives as a virtual shut-in, rarely leaving the shockingly cluttered room in a small apartment she shares with her mother. Instead she spends most of her time online or taking pictures with a telephoto camera she's using when she spots Kim's riverside message.
Inspired by his attempt to reach out, she impulsively writes a note and stuffs it in an empty bottle, venturing out of her apartment for the first time in three years to toss it over the bridge railing to Kim's island encampment below. Her missive begins a halting conversation between the pair, as they begin to open up to one another, until Kim's presence on the island is discovered by the authorities, jeopardizing the pair's newfound camaraderie.
Lee's script strikes a fine tonal balance between comedy, despair and absurdity. His small cast is game for anything with Jung Jae-young particularly ready to take his character wherever Lee leads. As the slightly loopy shut-in, singer-turned-actress Jung Rye-won endures repeated indignities with aplomb.
Alternating between the extremes of Ms. Kim's ridiculously cramped apartment room and Mr. Kim's island sanctuary, Lee's genial two-hander leverages a clever series of amusing situations to create an irresistible force drawing the two characters together. Ample physical humor, breezy camerawork and short fantasy sequences build comedic momentum for the surprisingly emotional conclusion.
Improbable plot aside, I mean who REALLY gets stranded on a deserted island that's completely surrounded by a city, I completely and utterly LOVED this movie. It does get a bit weepy at the end, but it made sense in the context of the story and it made for an incredibly satisfying ending. I just think the movie is genuinely sweet and touching with fantastic performances from the leads. One of the many strengths of the movie is how it is a fairly simple story that's very easy to get into and connect with the characters on an emotional level, you want to see them overcome their faults and eventually meet and become friends, very simple stuff. It's also a very funny and heartwarming film. It's really near perfection. For what it is trying to get across, I think it does everything well and doesn't mess up in any way that it detracts from the experience. As you can see, I am completely in love with this movie. I HIGHLY recommend it, and please do access this film by legal means. If you have Netflix streaming (where I watched it), stream it over there. Don't watch it on YouTube or torrent it. I guarantee that at least 95% of you who watch this will be completely satisfied with the movie. Some of the money does go to Netflix, unfortunately, but at least some of it also goes to the cast and the crew of this movie and they deserve it for such a lovely and wonderful film. I hate to sound preachy, especially for someone who has torrented several extremely successful Hollywood movies.
A botched suicide attempt leads to homeless horticulture and a long distance relationship with an agoraphobic voyeur. I'm serious. The man finds romance while living alone on an island inside a big plastic duck.