Previously at the ICA - Films

Poetry, Dir. Lee Chang-dong, 2010

Members\' Preview: Poetry

9 Jul 2011

'Poetry is undoubtedly one of the best films in this year’s official competition (Cannes 2010).' Time Out

Winner of Best Screenplay at Cannes, this hugely gripping, emotional rollercoaster is one of the stand-out films of the year. In equal measure, a riveting character study and hugely compassionate, morally labyrinthine, exploration of truth and love.

Elderly spinster and inveterate day-dreamer Yang Mija (played by Yun Jeong-Hee) works impossibly hard to raise her insular grandson while caring for a disabled man.

Her life is rocked when she learns her young grandson was one of gang of schoolboys who attacked a fellow classmate driving her to suicide. As the film masterfully works through the inevitable machinations with a powerful inexorable precision, Poetry takes us into an unfathomable emotional darkness. Yet it does so to explore inner lives, truth, beauty and love with a subtle force and emotional complexity unseen on-screen in years. A masterful study of a woman who refuses to give up on life as she desperately tries to calibrate her moral compass. The emotional range of actress Yun, a Korean national treasure who came out of a 16 year retirement for the film, is a wonder to behold. At every turn, just when we begin to feel we have the measure of her character, revelation after revelation peels yet another layer from her personality until in the end she is virtually unrecognisable from the opening scenes. The one constant in her life seems to be her secret ambition to write a single perfect poem. Of course, the irony in the title, is that the film itself is that poem.

Dir. Lee Chang-dong, 2010, Korean with English subtitles, cert tbc, 139mins (digital)

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