Dir: Pen-ek Ratanaruang. Thai-Neth-SKor-HK-Chi. 2005. 115mins.
InvisibleWaves is a feature whose admirers will find it hard to pinpoint why theylike it. Its numerous detractors, on the other hand, will find it easy tosubstantiate their dislikes.
Ostensibly about murder,guilt and redemption and told in a manner reminiscent of Jean Pierre Melville, Thaidirector Pen-ek Ratanaruang'sfeature includes scenes of deadpan humour that initially appear out of tune withthe plot. It also allows itself moments of silent contemplation, when ChrisDoyle's deft grey framing can tell the story in its own way by establishingdistinct, intimate spaces.
Naysayers will point out that nothing much happens for longstretches of time and that the narrative is sometimes difficult to follow. Butthis is still a work that boats astounding imagery and a spare, laconic styleof direction - the action is kept off-screen - which is exemplary.
Somewhat removed from thebrilliance of Last Life In The Universe,the previous collaboration from Ratanaruang, Japanesestar Asano Tadanobu and Australian maverick DoPDoyle, Invisible Waves
It needs greater patienceand, to some extent, lenience, from today's restless audiences who expecteverything to be spelled out for them in detail. It will prevail in festivalsand arthouses, but further than that it will requiremore effort.
Kioji (Tadanobu), a Japanese cook in a Hong Kongrestaurant, has an affair with the wife of his boss - only for his superior tohire him to murder his unfaithful spouse.
The killer is spirited awayby boat to Phuket, but en route meets the vivacious Noi (Gang Hye Jung) and her baby.A bond seems to develop, but they separate at port.
After being taken to a seedyhotel where he is robbed of all his money, Kioji iscontacted by Lizard (Ken Mitsuishi), a henchman forhis boss, who seems to harbours sinister intentions.
As the film progresses, sowhat appears to be a crime story turns into a morality play whose philosophy isthat happy men have more right to live than their ghosts from the past.
Tadanobu conveys, almostwithout changing expression or cracking a smile, something of the guiltpursuing him, as he wanders around the labyrinthine belly of the boat.
Michael J Werner
Gang Hye Jung