Poetry (시)

((summary taken from AsianMediaWiki))

An elderly lady in her 60's (played by Jeong-hee Yun) works as a caregiver for a disabled man & raises her grandson alone. She has to endure the onset of Alzheimer's disease and also learns that her grandson was one of the attackers of a junior high school girl that committed suicide. Through all of this and to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a poet the elderly woman starts to take a poetry class and composes poems ... 

Download: Asia Torrents , Yellow Cinema

My Rating:

This was a brilliant film. 

Before I start raving though, I should probably throw in the standard disclaimer that not everyone will enjoy this. For one thing, it's more art-house than popcorn-cinema, and has plenty of awards to back it up. So if you're looking for action, thrills, or romance, you're not going to find it here.

What you WILL find is an extremely strong character-driven story, with heart, depth, and a beauty that manages to be both understated and pronounced - through the use of lighting, dialogue, and cinematography. Another interesting element is how this movie doesn't include a soundtrack. Instead, it relies entirely on natural sounds like birds, traffic, rain, running water, a church choir, etc . . . yet it fits so flawlessly into the film that it's virtually unnoticeable (I didn't realize it myself until after the movie was over.)

But the main draw of course is the story: From the very beginning, it draws you in and never really lets you go. . .

Even though the plot itself may be common and predictable (especially the role the grandson plays in the girl's suicide) the way it eventually unfolds is not. Though the grandmother is a fully-realized character, most of her inner turmoil and dialogue is hidden from the viewer, leaving us to question her own motives and state of mind until the end. We know she sympathizes with the girl (and of the guilty party, she seems to be the only one who does) but what she intends to do about it remains a mystery. Oftentimes we're made to wonder if her lapse in memory is a result of her worsening Alzheimer's, or simply a construct of her poetic soul (personally, I'm inclined to believe the latter, though it's more than likely a little of both.)

One of my favorite scenes was when she found the crushed apricots on the way to talk to the victim's mother. Though she was supposed to bring up the hush money that would help save her grandson, she became so entranced by the image of the apricots that she completely forgot why she had sought the woman out in the first place . . . and even after remembering, she kept right on walking away; as though afraid to bring up such an ugly topic after such a pleasant encounter. It was a wonderful compliment to the earlier scene, when she walked out of the cafe to look at the flowers after learning of her grandson's transgression. Though her worsening Alzheimer's could be to blame, it's also possible that it was just a coping mechanism and a way for her to escape; a way to remind herself that there was still beauty in the world, and that poetry was one way of bringing it to the surface. . .

Mi-ja (the grandmother) is so easy to care and sympathize with, that's it's easy to watch the story unfold completely through her eyes. Her approach to poetry is so pure and innocent; it's a wonderful contrast to the upheaval her grandson's actions create. I really love how she doesn't let her pain color her words and make them harsh and dark - instead, she focuses on the beauty in the world, rather than condemning it. I LOVE where she ultimately finds inspiration for her poem, and how rewarding the outcome is because of it - especially in a world where the truth can be so easily buried by money, and corruption is encouraged rather than condemned. In the end, everything really comes together, and there isn't a single wasted scene, character, or line of dialogue.

I'd like to think that most people can relate to Poetry on a very basic level, even if it's something as simple as recalling a beautiful memory in the past, or admiring the beauty of nature that we never took the time to notice before. It's about love, regret, and longing - and finding the poet in all of us, no matter how difficult the journey may be.

So really, watch this. Just make sure you have a tissue handy - cause if you're anything like me, you're going to need it. ;)


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