Castaway on the Moon is the classic tale of boy meets girl. OK, well technically it's boy is trapped on an island in the middle of the river in the middle of his local metropolis while girl looks on through telescope and shares brief moments of conversation through messages in a bottle. More or less the same thing....
After a failed suicide attempt leaves him stranded on a desert island in the middle of his home town, Kim Seung-Keun must battle his want for death, his continuing annexation of the world around him, and find a way to hold on to that little bit of want for life left in him. Meanwhile, just across the river lives Kim Jung-Yeon. A sociophobic young girl who spends her days pretending to be other people online. She communicates her needs with her parents only through text messages. Her only solitude comes in nightly hypnosis and taking photographs of the moon. However, when by accident she finds her telescopic lens peering down upon the lone island inhabitant, a series of events are set into motion which will change both their lives forever.
To call Castaway on the Moon a romance would be a gross underestimate of the film's full potential. If anything, Castaway on the moon is a satirical drama comedy in the most surreal and charming sense. As you might imagine, at face value Castaway on the Moon liberally walks the line with the Hanks-Zemeckis' Cast Away, poking gentle fun at a few key sequences. However, as the film grows it finds its footing in a much more complex satire - that of the modern world. A world full of technology, immediate gratification, and ample opportunity for public isolation.
For our two lonesome heroes, the modern world is a terrifying place. While one leaves the harsh outside world and enters into isolation, the other must find a way to leave isolation and enter the outside world. They're opposite ends of the spectrum on a trajectory for collision.
Flawlessly maneuvering between gut wrenching moments of introspection and gut busting humor, Castaway on the Moon finds a way to make such a surreal story hit all the right emotional notes. It brings its characters to life, and pushes us to the brink of our understanding of the human condition in an effort to understand them.
Neither are cookie-cutter characters, and because of this Castaway on the Moon spends a great deal of its runtime exploring their view on reality. Through inner narrative we see how they view the world. We see their dreams, desires, fears, and are allowed to internalize all of them.
This design is helped by a wonderfully paced script. Without hesitation the movie picks up speed or slows things down, keeping the viewer in tune with the feelings of the characters we're observing. It works so brilliantly that I find myself wondering why this film has gained such little attention. Perhaps because it's viewed as just another quirky Asian romance-comedy? If so, that's definitely a shame as this Korean fairy tale - and I do feel comfortable calling it that - is more than worth your time and attention.
Whether you're a newcomer to Asian cinema or an old stalwart, this is one I recommend you don't miss.
Note: This film is available for instant watch via Netflix in Korean with English subtitles.