Poetry Review

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Set in South Korea, a sixtysomething woman faced with the discovery of a terrible family crime and suffering from Alzheimer's disease, finds strength and purpose when she enrolls in a poetry class.


This charming South Korean drama focuses on a gentle woman in her sixties named Mija (Yoon Jeong-Hee), whose eccentricities inspire bemusement and kindness in strangers. Less communicative is her teenage grandson, who’s implicated in a local scandal. As his guardian, Mija is asked to help cover up the crime by paying off the victim’s family. Implicitly unwilling to confront reality, Mija seeks comfort in a poetry class. While most characters are drawn with grace, humour and sensitivity, the sullen grandson remains a mystery, but that is almost the point. It may be hard for western audiences to grasp this culture’s businesslike approach to crime, but you sense that filmmaker Lee Chang-Dong finds it as shocking as we do.

Well-crafted and compelling, if a little inaccessible to western audiences...