Mr. Kim has had it with life. A terrible job, miserable relationships, and a crippling mound of debt has pushed him to where he currently stands- on the edge of a bridge overlooking the massive Han river in Seoul. He decides to end it all and jumps off into the void.
Hours later he awakens on a beach, discombobulated but still quite alive. It turns out that not only did he survive his fall but he’s washed up on a little island under a highway overpass, and despite being near the biggest city in South Korea, he’s stranded. The highway above him is too high, with no stairs or handhelds to get up. Boats ride too far away from him to hear his cries and ignore his frantic waves. And to top it off, the poor guy can’t swim. He spends hours and then days trying to escape before coming to the realization that here, he can finally live. He begins foraging and setting up a new life for himself on this strange new world.
Meanwhile, in an apartment across the bay, a strange shut-in (also with the last name of Kim) watches him through a telescope. She’s terrified to go outside and, despite living with them, it’s been years since she’s seen her parents. She spends most of her time updating her blog with lies about her exciting life and sleeping in a bubble-wrap cocoon in her closet. But when she sees him, she can’t look away. She watches his progress, feeling closer to him than anyone else before. One day, she decides to make contact, sneaking out of her apartment at night and throwing him a message in a bottle.
Thus begins one of most bizarre and heartwarming romances in recent film history.
Castaway on the Moon would make a great double feature with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, as they’re both films about incredibly lonely people who refuse to admit what they are, only turning their lives around when they open up a bit and let themselves try to love a little- terrifying though it may be. Fans of magical realism will be in heaven here. It’s not nearly as fantastical as a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film, but it definitely has a similar whimsical style. True to the nature of Korean film it frequently flipflops from laugh-out-loud funny moments to deadly serious ones, but it works in the context of the story here.
Castaway on the Moon is one of those rare films that comes out every few years that reminds even the most jaded of us why we were drawn to film in the first place, of all the emotions and feelings the medium can evoke in you. Nearly everything is perfect- the acting, the score, the beautiful composition and way the story doubles back on itself to show you moments from other perspectives. It’s a stunning experience, sweet and funny and tear-jerking, not only my favorite film from the New York Asian Film Festival, but my favorite film this year so far.
Castaway on the Moon is playing this Sunday July 4th and Wednesday July 7th at the New York Asian Film Festival, with director Lee Hey-Jun in attendance for a Q&A at both scerenings.Grab a significant other, a date, or just go by yourself, because you don’t want to miss out on this magnificent film.