In the (genius) Coen Brother’s film THE BIG LEBOWSKI, Julianne Moore’s character Maude is an avant garde artist who describes her painting as “strongly vaginal.” Until THE ISLE, I thought that was simply a funny joke upon the traditionally phalocentric world of art.
Nay, for few films are as vaginal as the Thai film THE ISLE. If no man is an island, it nonetheless the case, if you buy this film’s prevailing imagery, that a woman’s vagina is an island of danger and mystery.
The story surrounds a mute groundskeeper who runs a fishing village of sorts. Small cabins on rafts are placed on a lake. The caretaker services the cabins of male fishermen, bringing them coffee and sex at their bidding. Her angry eyes and self-prevailing muteness (she speaks once in the film, as we watch her lips move while talking on the phone as seen through a window) illustrates a cold passion and cunning.
This is an intense, disturbing, and at times disgusting film. It is also, at times, quietly beautiful, even when its being the most brutal. The film contains more gore than most horror films, but also explores powerful, violent and intimate emotions. The horror is unstylized, the uncoloured horror of people hurting one another, most often by hurting themselves.
The film is almost dialogue free, with very sparse or banal observations when words are used to communicate. Instead, much of the communication of the film’s ideas are done through actions and images. It is a very physical, tangible film, a movie that requires a great deal of its audience.
A very compelling and disturbing film, one that won’t soon be forgotten.