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Invisible Waves
2006; directed by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang

This multi-national production is probably not what immediately comes to mind when one thinks about a film featuring an assassin, being more of a philosophical arthouse meditation than a guns akimbo action fest. Though it may be too slow-moving for some, this is still ultimately an interesting take on the popular and often-used trope of a hitman wanting to get out of "the life".

Invisible Waves  Invisible Waves

Invisible Waves wears its' arthouse influences on its' sleeve, especially the work of Stanley Kubrick (the film riffs on The Shining at points, as it teases if this will be a ghost story) and Wong Kar-Wai, going so far as to employ Wong's long-time collaborator, cinematographer Christopher Doyle. These stylistic choices give Invisible Waves a mysterious and ethereal feeling permeating throughout the running time, which will be enticing to some, but perhaps too obtuse for others.

Invisible Waves  Invisible Waves

This is not the sort of movie built on big and loud dramatic moments, or even a slow burn for that matter, as the resolution features the same quiet introspection featured during the rest of the movie. In the hands of a less talented director, matters may well have quickly turned into cinematic masturbation, but Pen-Ek Ratanaruang finds himself up to the task here, an effort that is undoubtedly helped along by his actors, including star Tadanobu Asano and smaller roles from veteran performers like Eric Tsang and Maria Cordero, who all give naturalistic roles that are thankfully free of the overwrought acting style that derails many arthouse films.

Invisible Waves  Invisible Waves

Invisible Waves does falter a little, in that the movie runs at almost two hours and feels like it overstays its' welcome just a tad. There are several times where we see the same action repeated, which doesn't feel necessary to the core story telling. A smidge of editing would have served this release well. Even though Invisible Waves isn't a great cinematic masterpiece and won't change your ideas about arthouse films, it is still a fine movie that is worth checking out if you want to see something from the more cerebral side of cinema.


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