A Tale of Two Sisters

3 out of 5

Director: Kim Ji-Woon

Ji-woon Kim, from the three films of his I have seen at the time of this writing, is amazingly adept at adapting his style to match a genre, adding depth where unexpected and putting intense work (assumedly) into the framing of his shots without it feeling forced or even obvious. The movies pass by on one level and then can be re-examined on a different level to further shake up one’s feelings on what they have just watched. This is especially apparent in A Tale of Two Sisters, a movie that demands much from its audience in terms of attention span (hence, unfortunately, the three stars), but proves itself worth the journey several times through. To pitch this as just horror is to due it a disservice, but it plays the part well, with some splashes of blood and creeps, and your expected long-haired weird-moving young girl. The plot unravels as you go along, but essentially it seems that two sisters move back into their father’s home after leaving for an indeterminate amount of time after their mother’s death. There is now a stepmother. There also may be some ghosts. There’s definitely a whole lot going on that’s not spoken about, but indirectly explained through the intense and uncomfortable mostly-silent exchanges of the family. Which is where the viewer’s patience may be tested. Kim is a visualist, but not obscenely. Beautiful colors and symbols are purposefully woven into the tapestry, repeated at appropriate intervals to create some sense of impending that coils until the film decides to let you into its inner circle. How well you can sit through these lulling scenes will determine your enjoyment, or how much you feel like the end sequences play out as a “reveal” as opposed to a sensible part of the cyclical story. It is not an overly thrilling story, or scary, but it is a passionate one, carefully told. With expectations set aside you might find yourself re-watching this again and again. But be prepared to feel each of the 115 minutes.

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