“You were an old man; you were dying, and you were afraid.”
I Was a Simple Man casts an enchanting spell of melancholy that’s deeply intimate and haunting at the same time. The film is magnificent in how it uses its poetic imagery to do most of the heavy lifting, its protagonist (Masao) is a man of few words, but he wears his emotions on his face, and in his past.
I Was a Simple Man uses subtly to drive through its messages of pain, and regret. It also journeys into this dying man’s past, and we watch him in love, and we watch him come apart due to the loss of that love. We watch him lose himself within the grief and close himself off to love.
And on his death bed, Masao takes a journey of reflection in a very poetic way, we can’t help but mourn with him and for him, mourn the love he has lost and the regrets he takes to his grave.
As much as it’s about this man’s life and his journey towards the light and warm embrace of his love in the afterlife, the film is also a remarkable love letter to the land of Hawaii itself and the power it holds and how it shapes the people. Cinematographer Eunsoo Cho has imagery that is textured and atmospheric, the winds sing to you the peoples hopes and dreams, the trees and ocean hold their memories.
Overall, I Was a Simple Man is a personal journey that reflects on tragedy and death, while making us the audience appreciate the beauty of life and its co-existence with death and how the two are forever bonded, and how acceptance is key in both the concepts of life and death. It’s a film I’d highly recommend.