Our next film, POETRY, tells the story an old woman named Mija, who is working part-time as a maid while trying to raise her grandson. It won for best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival and it’s the latest from Korean director Lee Chang-dong. After a local girl commits suicide, it’s discovered that a group of her classmates -- including the old woman's grandson --were involved in her death.
That's Yoon Jeong-hee, a superstar of Korean cinema in the 1960s, who came out of retirement to play the lead role.
In the meantime, Mija has started taking a poetry class at the local community center.
She becomes more focused on her poetry class than on the scandal.
Mija is nice and a little distant, but she makes rash decisions which reveal other aspects of her personality. There’s no point in this film where you can be completely sure where this story is going, but when it gets there, it doesn’t come as a complete shock, and in that respect, I’d say that POETRY achieves a rare balance: it's unpredictable, yet at the same time it's so true to her character that at no point does the plot feel like a betrayal of what we've already learned about her. Mija-- and Yoon ‘s fantastic performance – are the film, and for me, she's what makes POETRY completely engrossing.
This is a lovely movie. I totally agree with you and it’s so understated it’s like mesmerizing. So when shocking things do happen, they pop out more, it’s not surrounded in melodrama. There is no music in this film, I realized about halfway through. Just things happen and some of them are very shocking. I mean the first images you see are really mesmerizing. It’s this really calm peaceful river and then you realize…
But it’s actually suggesting something…it’s quite dark.
No, but there’s a body in it. And again there’s no duh, duh, duh when it happens. Mija’s whole journey, whole arc is lovely and it’s believable and she changes, but in very subtle ways and you could look at the poetry for a very facile kind of metaphor for what’s going on in her life, in her internal changes, and her family, but it always makes sense and it’s really delicate in the details and yeah it’s lovely.
The details, yeah, you know what I really love about Lee’s films is how he’s able to reveal things about characters through very sudden, sometimes unexpected changes in action or in tone. You know, when Mija shakes her grandson, I think that’s, you really see an aspect of her that’s been hidden before. Now, I know that you sometimes have a problem with a movie being overlong. This movie is 2 hours and 20 minutes.
It is a little long.
How did you feel? Did you feel that it was worth the running time?
I was enraptured the whole time, but in retrospect there are scenes where maybe the dialogue is a little expository and it’s just people just sitting around explaining things and maybe those could have been trimmed, those could have been cut, but as a whole, it serves to lull you in, so I was ok way with it.
Yeah and it helps to give it such a natural sense of pacing.