Monday, 26 July 2010
(Lee Changdong; South Korea; 2010)
Having been a bit of a snob at MIFF two years ago, I skipped Lee Changdong's previous film Secret Sunshine, because it swung closer to the 'ho-hum' side of my cinema-barometer (cinerometer?) After watching Poetry I am laughing at my inability to correctly judge a film by it's previews, as Changdong's new film reveals yet another Korean director who is part of the ever-growing vanguard that pushes forward Korean cinema as one of the strongest national cinemas at present. The story of a grandmother who attends a poetry class and struggles to write a single poem, while also having to deal with the early erosion of her mental faculties and her grandson being involved in the suicide of a young girl, this film is elegantly paced and gorgeously composed. The slow build of the pressure this woman experiences is nuanced perfectly, and what really struck me, and surprised me, was the regular reliance on open frames, busy with nature or city or administrative interiors, yet almost always meditative, as if the director is inviting us to try and find the poetry in the everyday, just as the woman is searching for the same. I was warmly surprised and thoroughly engrossed in this film, and am eager to see what Changdong's previous work is like.