Thirst (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner14/10/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 133 mins

Park Chan-wook's Thirst is an enjoyable, extremely stylish and well acted vampire drama that builds to a terrific finale, though it's also overlong, struggles to find the right tone and drags considerably in the middle section.

What's it all about?
Directed by Park Chan-wook (Oldboy), Thirst is based on Emile Zola's noirish 1867 novel Therese Raquin and stars Song Kang-ho as Sang-hyun, a priest who volunteers for a dangerous medical experiment in Africa, intending to help fight the spread of a terrible disease. However, the experiment goes horribly wrong and Sang-hyun wakes up with a pustulent aversion to sunlight and a thirst for human blood, though he retains something of a conscience and only feeds from dead or dying bodies.

Meanwhile, the beautiful Tae-ju (Kim Ok-vin) is trapped in an unhappy marriage to Kang-woo (Shin Ha-kyun), which is made worse by sharing a house with his obsessive mother (Kim Hae-sook). One night, Tae-ju meets Sang-hyun and the two begin a passionate affair, with deadly consequences.

The Good
Thirst is extremely stylish and beautifully shot, with striking cinematography by the gloriously named Chung Chung-hoon. It also has a superbly quirky soundtrack that makes strong use of 1940s Korean songs.

Song Kang-ho and Kim Ok-vin are both terrific in the lead roles; they have powerful chemistry together that adds considerably to the film's noirish plot. There are also flashes of dark humour in the film and Park orchestrates several great sequences, but the highlight is the extraordinary finale, which is both gripping and heartbreaking in equal measure.

The Bad
That said, the film drags considerably in the middle section and is at least 30 minutes too long as a result. The second act also suffers from several jarring switches in tone, though these are thankfully ironed out in time for the fantastic finale.

Worth seeing?
Thirst would make an excellent arthouse vampire flick double bill with last year's Let the Right One In. It's by no means perfect, but it's stylish, beautifully acted and ultimately worth seeing for its brilliant finale alone.

Film Trailer

Thirst (18)
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Content updated: 23/10/2017 12:20

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