Winter 2012 Features series
Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 4:00pm
Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 7:00pm
Directed by Chang-dong Lee
Screenplay by Chang-dong Lee
Starring Jeong-hie Yun, Nae-sang Ahn, and Da-wit Lee
Rated 14A ·
The body of a dead young girl floats quietly along the Han River, drifting mysteriously through the opening scene of Lee Chang-dong’s unforgettable drama, Poetry. The film’s desaturated palette and nuanced sensibility create a subtle yet engrossing sense of realism. Lee Chang-dong explores the subjects of unthinkable tragedy and unlikely absolution in this deeply moving story.
Veteran actress Yun Jung-hee shines in the role of Mija, a beautiful woman in her sixties who moves gracefully through life, contemplating a trivial daily routine that is ill-suited to her refined persona. With elegance and a dash of eccentricity, Mija takes care of her ungrateful grandson, Wook (Lee Da-wit), and makes a living by cleaning house for an elderly man who, though paralyzed by a stroke, still responds to her charm with bouts of drug-induced arousal.
On a whim, Mija enrolls in a poetry class at the local cultural centre and begins a personal quest to find the perfect words to articulate her feelings. However, she’s plagued by the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and struggles with new vocabulary and the challenges of the creative process. When her world is turned upside down by her grandson’s implication in a monstrous crime, it is Mija’s unique and touching poetry that allows her to defy the weight of shame and distance herself from a painful proximity to violence.
In this courageous and intelligent melodrama, poetry becomes the inspirational subtext in a multilayered tale. Lee embarks on a subtle analysis of evil and explores the role of creativity as an antidote to squalour and abuse. Cross-pollinating cinematic genres with literary forms, he draws from his experience as a novelist to create a lyrical balance between social commentary and poetry in this refined ode to purity and beauty. With his deceptively simple visual style perfectly complementing his elegantly literary script, Poetry is a refined, multilayered reflection on art, ethics and the nature of evil.
“Poetry is daring in the ways only quiet, unhurried but finally haunting films have the courage to be. A character study of remarkable subtlety joined to a carefully worked-out plot that fearlessly explores big issues like beauty, truth and mortality, it marks the further emergence of Korean writer-director Lee Chang-dong.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times