Poetry (Shi)

Rated NR 149 min. 2011

Judging by outward appearances, Mija (Yun Jung-hee) is a vivacious, contented 66-year-old woman with a pleasant, if routine, life in Poetry. She works part-time caring for a handicapped man (Kim Hira) and comes home to a matchbox apartment and the sullen teenage grandson her daughter has saddled her with raising. But there is something more urgent beating beneath the skin of this South Korean grandmother, which compels her to register for a poetry class at the local cultural center. Director Lee Chang-dong’s exquisite, heart-wrenching character study is an examination of the beauty that Mija finds in the literary form, which she uses as an escape from the ugliness that begins to intrude upon her world. Soon after enrolling in the poetry class, Mija gets news that shakes her up in the most profound way. Her grandson, along with five of his classmates, has been involved in a terrible crime against a 16-year-old female classmate, Agnes. Poetry, especially the Friday night meetings of poetry lovers in the small town where she lives, clearly becomes a salve to the darkness that has intruded into her sunny disposition. Mija longs to write a poem. But it is what that poem represents — the desire to experience, remember, and live fully — that Lee clearly believes is a lesson we could all benefit from.

Film Credits

Official Site: diaphana.fr/film/poetry

Director: Chang-dong Lee

Writer: Chang-dong Lee

Cast: Jeong-hee Yoon, Nae-sang Ahn, Da-wit Lee, Hira Kim and Yong-taek Kim

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