Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Late review - London Film Fest Day 2010 Day 10 - POETRY

POETRY is a delicate, strange, captivating film about an old woman called Yang Mija, living in contemporary South Korea. Grandmother to a feckless grandson, exploited by the OAP she cares for, and generally invisible in modern society, she finds a kind of purpose and connection by attending a poetry writing class and making friends at poetry recitals. Through poetry, she moves from victim and martyr to agent and creator. Famous Korean actress Jeong-hee Yoon plays Mija as a meek, timid woman with inner strength. A woman who will do the unpalatable to protect her grandson, but who will, ultimately gather the strength to stop enabling him. It's a performance of great subtlety and nuance, and we see this quiet transformation over more than two hours. More than a month after the Film Festival, POETRY still resonates - both Chang-dong Lee's acutely observant direction and Jeong-hee Yoon's central performance. Here is a film about ageing, about reclaiming life, about callow youth, about sexual violence, guilty secrets and sexual desperation. And yet, and yet, it's also a film with flashes of comic brilliance - mostly related to the foul-mouthed, warm-hearted poet Mr Kang (Hira Kim). I can't recommend it highly enough.

POETRY played Cannes and Toronto 2010 and opened earlier this year in South Korea and France.

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