Poetry (2010, South Korea) ****

PoetryPoetry, a South Korean drama film, written and directed by Lee Chang-dong, is both simple and complex. Though following a clear narrative, the sum of the film’s layers adds up to a poem, as is its ending: clear yet leaving room for personal interpretation. Yoon Jeong-hee, playing the main character named Yang Mija, delivers perfectly; portraying hope and wonder, mixed with confusion and despair. The story, that starts with a body of a teenaged girl floating in the river, is all in all mellow and take some time to build. It includes topics such as generation gap, teenage oblivion, sex abuse, old age, Alzheimer, and of course, poetry. Lee Chang-dong uses visuals and small vignettes of cinematic storytelling to weave a web that consists of a difficult reality, one that amounts to Greek-style tragedy. At 139 minutes, the film is at least half an hour too long and suffers from some pacing issue. But if you can stomach a good tragedy, Poetry should be on your shortlist.