Film: Poetry (Shi / 시)
Director (& writer): Lee Chang-dong
Venue: ICA, London
Running time: 139 minutes
Preview Screening – Winner at Cannes Film Festival
Before I went to see this film, I thought that the main lead was the same as the one on Mother (Madao / …. ), but I guess that shows you how naive I can be when distinguishing between our Asian friends.
That said, not only is this woman slightly resemblant of ‘Mother’ the story in Poetry could be said to have a vague paralllel or two. In particular – and hopefully without giving too much away – there is mention and a plot involving a youngster who dies as a result of somebody else’s actions, and whom the central character is related to. Of course, that’s all I’m saying. [Do catch the beginning shots though, they relate to the latter and are quaintly done]
I will say though that the two films are ones of two very different styles.
In this movie a woman (Yoon Jeong-hee) is introduced who not only has a tough – but I’d say sometimes rewarding – part-time caring job but also looks after a young relation. As I wrote the word ‘rewarding’ no pun was intended for actions which play out towards the end of the film, regarding that job. And, of course you would only ‘get’ such a pun if you’d seen the movie.
My point here is that she really has two jobs, albeit one is for family. Not content with this she thinks about poetry and proceeds to do something about this thinking… Although rarely people do not have a hobby or aspiration.
[I’ll say at this moment that somewhere near the beginning I heard the Korean words and therefore saw the English translation of “Yes of course I know Kibum”. I mused to myself and a-mused myself by thinking that the main character was speaking of my London area… And thought “Wow, even in Korean they are aware of KILBURN’… But alas I had read it incorrectly. Needless, Kibum is a character’s name and not ‘Kilburn’. Now, that would have been a different kind of poetry or poetic license perhaps]
The death, mentioned in my first paragraph does not go unnoticed, of course. There are characters who would rather sweep the occurrence under the carpet, so to speak.
Our main character doesn’t quite know how to cope with the latter news, so it’s just as well that she has decided to use poetry as an art-form to focus on.
Although doing my best to non-spoiler this review and therefore the film, I will say that there is a great but subtle scene where she confronts her relation involved with the badness. There are no words exchanged, in relation to the dead individual – words are not necessary.
There is a similar scene where words are half-exchanged in a dramatic, shouty, emotional & realistic way. So much so that I was almost brought to tears [yes, again!] due to the power and conviction.
This is not the only time for tears or weeping. There is a moment in a shower, poetry readings, moments featuring a disabled guy and such scenes showing life’s frailties. Life indeed throws us unique times, whether this be love & pleasure or heartache & ailments.
Uniqueness is also our main character… and being unique is a factor all good characters have. She may be not only a unique individual and a quiet soul, she’s clever, if only at one or two aspects of her life. Does she let things get her down? I guess it depends on the situation.
Am I concluding? I suppose I am. A fair plus and minus point each I should mention, to round things off.
+ On a techy note, there’s a great fade or two in this picture.
– A class is asked to write a particular piece by a certain deadline. Of the ones which do not have such a written piece prepared, none do achieve this deadline. In real life though, I would expect at least a few to have met this deadline.
As always, these are this humble writer’s opinions only.
Lastly… Whether you enjoy poetry or tales involving death, I think you’ll be moved by the ending.
Find this trailer and other Minier [ok, that’s not a real word, but…] Movies here at: