Watching Oasis is an extremely uncomfortable experience, and this is exactly what writer/director Lee Chang-dong (Peppermint Candy, Green Fish) wanted. The most shocking event occurs near the beginning, where a mentally unstable man rapes a woman with cerebral palsy. Then, Lee goes in a direction that nobody expects - the two begin a relationship. But this is what Lee wants to do, to show how love can appear in the most unlikely, and socially unacceptable places.

Hong Jong-Du (Sol Kyung-Gu, Silmido, Jail Breakers) is fresh out of prison for a vehicular manslaughter charge. He is innocent, but went to jail for his brother, because he felt that his brother had a future. Hong has some undescribed mental illness that causes him to lose focus often, and get in trouble a lot. One of the first things he does after leaving jail is going to the house of the family he killed. His family is knowingly horrified, as is the victim's family. The only person there is Han Gong-Ju (Moon So-Ri, Peppermint Candy), who has cerebral palsy. Hong rapes Han, and this scene is probably one of the most excruciatingly painful experiences in recent film history.

Amazingly, Han calls Hong and the two begin dating. Again, both families vehemently oppose this. Nevertheless, Hong and Han are kindred spirits, outcasts from 'normal' society. Han's family uses her disability to get a better apartment. They alternately ignore and berate her. Hong's family feels he is useless and a disgrace. When they are together, they find acceptance and love, especially on Han's behalf. Hong treats her like anybody else. He doesn't let her condition change anything about the way he feels about her (whether he is capable of doing so or not is another matter).

Moon does not have cerebral palsy, but her performance is riveting. At various points, Lee inserts fantasy sequences, where Han is not afflicted with cerebral palsy, and is able to interact normally. The contrast is shocking. Moon sings, moves, and dances with ease, free of the spasms that engulf her body. Lee is treading on dangerous territory, since many may think he is exploiting an illness just to make a movie. This is not the case. Still, this may be too much for many people to sit through.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
2 hours, 12 minutes, Korean with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains language, nudity, and sexuality (including a rape), most likely an NC-17, possibly an R.

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