A Subversive ‘Twilight’

t’s only the second day of Cannes, and the program already has its subversive claws out. Being a center of global filmic expression, Cannes often contains movies with explicit and controversial subject matter. So far this year, two features match that expectation. "Spring Fever," a romantic drama from daring Chinese filmmaker Lou Ye, focuses on […]

Last Updated: May 14, 2009 @ 11:02 PM

t’s only the second day of Cannes, and the program already has its subversive claws out.

Being a center of global filmic expression, Cannes often contains movies with explicit and controversial subject matter. So far this year, two features match that expectation.

"Spring Fever," a romantic drama from daring Chinese filmmaker Lou Ye, focuses on a woman who hires a private investigator to follow her husband as he engages in an affair with a man. The movie contains multiple scenes of explicit gay sex, not to mention a dense, hardly decipherable plot and monotonous performances.

 

If it wins the Palme d’Or, I vow to renounce this year’s jury.

The other provocative offering that has unspooled here at the beginning of the festival, Park Chan-wook’s "Thirst," offers a lot more to write home about. The director of such bloody modern cult classics as "Oldboy" makes an altogether twistedly satisfying contribution to the vampire genre with his latest work.

The story follows a priest infected by some vaguely defined medical experiment that turns him into a bonafide bloodsucker. As the character gives into urges that run counter to his moral propensities, "Thirst" becomes a ferocious religious parody without losing its comically gorey edge.

 

At over two hours, it could get trimmed down a bit, but nearly every scene plays into the vastly entertaining big picture. Calling it "Twilight" by way of David Cronenberg doesn’t even begin to do it justice. When the priest loses his virginity to a young girl eager to enter his perverted world, "Thirst" even manages to top its own unsettling madness.

After the screening, I ran into Jeff Hill, the American publicist for the movie. He worried that many journalists had a negative reaction it, which should come as no great surprise. But I’m betting those folks disliked "Oldboy," too.

 

Let ‘em rant; it’s their right. But anyone eager for an energizing take on one of the most beloved stories in goth history will surely appreciate Park’s viscerally unsettling accomplishment.