I Come with the… PAIN!!!
by Ender’s Girl
Josh Hartnett, Lee Byung-hun, Kimura Takuya, Shawn Yue, Trần Nữ Yên Khê, Elias Koteas
Written and directed by Tran Anh Hung / Central Films, 2008
In a Nutshell:
Kline, an ex-L.A. cop turned PI, is hired by a reclusive Asian tycoon to track down his missing son Shitao. While on assignment, a fresh lead takes Kline from the mountain hinterlands of the southern Philippines to the backstreets and fringes of Hong Kong, where he seeks the help of Meng Zi, an old acquaintance from his law enforcement days. But the tortuous trail that leads to the elusive Shitao unexpectedly intersects with three other characters: the sadistic crime boss Dong-po, his heroin-addicted girlfriend Lili, and the dead serial killer Hasford, who continues to haunt the already fraying Kline through dreams of his gruesome murders.
(SpoilLert: There Will Be Blood!!!)
They say that pain is beauty, and beauty pain… or something like that. Such is the central thesis of French-Vietnamese auteur Tran Anh Hung’s latest art house oeuvre, the psychological thriller I Come with the Rain. This dualism between pain and beauty is not lost on the viewer as the first scene unfolds: a flashback showing then detective Kline’s (Josh Hartnett) final face-off with Hasford (Elias Koteas), the serial killer and self-styled artist he has overzealously hunted (and studied) for 27 months. Surrounded by Hasford’s grotesque installation sculptures — made even more grotesque by the fact that he uses, um, actual body parts of his victims, eew — Kline gets bludgeoned, then bitten by a lugubrious Hasford, who views his macabre “masterpieces” as objects of artistic — and even spiritual — fervor.
Suffering as a religious experience, creating beauty from butchery, the agony and the ecstasy of living in this world — these are the main themes that I Come with the Rain gorges on, then later spews up on the viewer with as much subtlety and finesse as the hammer blows that the crime boss Dong-po (Lee Byung-hun) rains on a henchman who has failed him at one point in the story. The path that this film takes you on is a veritable via dolorosa where every turn, every corner is an exercise in the glorification of Pain in all its incarnations — the pain of dismembering victims for a psycho-artist’s portfolio, the pain of drug addiction and withdrawal, the pain of manifesting spontaneous lacerations and other stigmata while absorbing the suffering of others, the pain of a mind still tormented by grisly memories of the past. But as a viewer you wonder which is a more excruciating experience: the traumatic throes the main characters undergo, or having to sit through all 115 minutes while battling apathy and insensibility. Hasford tells Kline at the start of the story: “Jesus is in agony… till the end of the world.” Um, I beg to disagree. It’s the viewer who’s in mind-numbing agony until the end of this film — and how! (Lol)