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Universal acclaim - based on 19 Critics What's this?

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7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 33 Ratings

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  • Summary: A sixty-something woman, faced with the discovery of a heinous family crime, finds strength and purpose when she enrolls in a poetry class. Lee Chang-dong's follow-up to his acclaimed Secret Sunshine is a masterful study of the subtle empowerment — and moral compass — of an indefatigable older woman. (Kino International) Collapse
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 19
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 19
  3. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Mar 3, 2011
    100
    This is a movie whose power comes from the alignment both of Mija's discovery with ours and of a tremendous writer and director with his star.
  2. Reviewed by: G. Allen Johnson
    Apr 7, 2011
    100
    A heartrending film, Lee's Poetry is indeed a work of art.
  3. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    May 5, 2011
    100
    Daring in the ways only quiet, unhurried but finally haunting films have the courage to be. A character study of remarkable subtlety joined to a carefully worked-out plot that fearlessly explores big issues like beauty, truth and mortality, it marks the further emergence of Korean writer-director Lee Chang-dong.
  4. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    May 19, 2011
    90
    Yun's performance is genuinely beautiful, a haunting expression of life, of its disappointments and its possibilities, rendered in a way that befits the title.
  5. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Feb 10, 2011
    83
    Whenever all the pieces are in place, though, Lee reverts to the kind of storytelling he does best.
  6. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Feb 9, 2011
    80
    Yun is quite simply spectacular as a woman who holds steadfastly on to her dignity and empathy, even in the face of unspeakable tragedy.
  7. 70
    It comes together neatly, perhaps too neatly to be … poetry. But it's not prosaic, either. It has a lucid grace.

See all 19 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 9
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 9
  3. Negative: 2 out of 9
  1. Aug 4, 2011
    10
    i don't know hangul, but the way the poem in the ending was translated into english, it was beautiful. it tells a lot about dementia and old age, helplessness, kindness, famaily, morality and poetry. amazing woman. Expand
  2. Jun 18, 2012
    10
    My personal favorite film of 2011 along with A Separation.The movie,itself, facinated me in every aspects by providing one of the most stunningly beautiful and profoundly inspiring storyline. The acting was perfectly crafted and truly deserved an acheivement by winning The Best Screen play Award in Festival De Cannes. An unforgettable film. Expand
  3. Apr 9, 2011
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. What's that thing called when a group of young school-aged boys coerce an innocent girl, a classmate, to engage in rounds of repeated sexual intercourse against her will over the course of six weeks? It's not "wallet" or "bus terminal", but be patient with Mija(Yun Jung-Hee), a beautiful, somewhat self-possessed grandmother in her mid-sixties who was recently diagnosed with the early signs of Alzheimer's Disease. You'll have to excuse Mija. Her mind is, understandably, a little hazy, and in addition to her condition, the old woman is a little set in her ways. Like any aging woman, Mija likes routine. Like clockwork, she cooks and cleans for her M.I.A. daughter's subordinate, and supplements her welfare checks with a caretaking job where she looks after a disabled old man. That's her world, her bubble. But that world is about to change. And pop. She just enrolled in a poetry class. The word which eludes the literary upstart at the start of her emotional journey will come to her by course's end. For the time being, Mija finds herself in a constant struggle with language, but the poetic inspiration she seeks gives a wide berth to her eager mind, but it can't be solely attributed to the effects of the fast-approaching disease. On the literary class' first day, the earnest instructor tells his pupils that "the most important thing in life is seeing," and for Mija, being able to see extends beyond the ability to describe an apple, or a beautiful flower, or the mysteries of birdsong. But she can't. She has blinders on. She loves her grandson. "Poetry" begins with the aftermath of a suicide, when a group of boys playing down by the riverside notice a motionless body turned faced down, advancing cryptically towards them, dictated by the water's currents. In a diary kept by the girl detailing her nightmarish ordeal, the principal characters in this morality play could easily deduce that she jumped, as if the collected auras of the repugnant boys with their phallic weapons were there with the spent girl at the bridge on that fateful spring day to do the pushing themselves. Set in a South Korean small town, "Poetry" subtly suggests how the nihilistic American subculture of sex, drugs, and rock and roll has infiltrated the mindsets of the Asian youth, therefore tossing aside the values practiced by preceding generations of eastern peoples, turning their thoughtful ways into a study in antiquity. "Poetry" has the form of a Korean film, but the content of an American one. In the opening of Tim Hunter's "River's Edge", we get the metaphor of male tyranny over womankind that "Poetry" infers, in which a slightly younger boy, also on a bridge, has in his possession a female doll, a child's toy, in his clutches, which he then proceeds to drop into the river below. The boy's older friend John(Daniel Roebuck), who murders a girl for real, leaves the nude body on the grass near the perimeter of the water, where her supposed friends would visit without the requisite amount of horror that a sensitized person should exhibit as a witness to a crime scene. The curious, almost heartbreaking lack of remorse in Mija's grandson, Wook(Lee David), who plays a part in the girl's decision to kill herself, carries strong reverberations with the 1986 indie shocker that introduced Keanu Reeves to the world, and featured an electric performance by Crispin Glover. Nobody reports the similarly heinous incident to the proper authorities in "Shi"(the original South Korean title) either. This time, however, it's the boys' fathers, respectable members of the community, not teenaged burn-out stoners, who don't do the right thing, choosing instead to pay reparations(read: hush money) to the girl's mother. Mija, the only woman in the sordid group becomes co-opted by this patriarchal conspiracy, but in time, her creative writing class helps the confused old woman see that the dead girl is more important than the jeopardized futures of the guilty boys. Limited by writing exercises that only emphasize the flowery side of poetry, Mija slowly comes to realize how verse can encompass objects and emotions that aren't necessarily beautiful. As the specter of the drowned girl seeps into the things that she takes notes on in her scratch pad, the descriptions grow increasingly darker. In one entry, she observes, "The apricot throws itself to the ground, crushed and trampled on, being prepared for the next life." Poetic inspiration grabs the old woman by the neck when it dawns on her that the world isn't always necessarily beautiful place. It wasn't for the girl. Finally, before the dementia takes hold, Mija finds the right word to describe Wook, and it isn't "grandson", it's "rapist", and she turns him over to the police. Mija writes a poem called "Agnes' Song". She learns what it means to be a moral artist. Expand
  4. Apr 3, 2011
    9
    Sorry. Translation Italian / English mechanics. Song for Agunes Who is Lee Chang-dong and what is Poetry? The first is a rhapsoidos, a narrator, the second is a drama "aggressive, irritating, pungent" In short, the worst. And 'the fruit of his narrative. And not only. Poetry is also a complex web of psychological intimacy real, tangible, visible, and it is the latter visibility and attempting to "influence" the viewer straining his self-control. But, good storyteller knows the rhythms of pathos, it is wise in the use of visual dynamism and its natural "separator" the balmy rest. "Bold" and "italic" alternate film, the equilibrium is reached. Even the audience is no less, the initial idiosyncrasy is deliberately demolished. Curiosity is a lot and that's enough. And the "poetry"? How our director has used poetry to teach us "to see what is around us?", "To be able to find the beauty in everyday life?", "Understand that it is in our Heart, Poetry?" That the moment "to take flight" has come? I understand that the carriers are essentially two. The excellent interpretation of the myth Korean Yu Junghee Mija / (away from the set for many years and not at all withered in form and substance) and screenplay. Winning both in Europe and Asia. Mija is an old lady with an initial decline of intellectual functions. Visited in a hospital tells of the occasional loss of memory. Subsequent laboratory tests confirmed the dismal prognosis of Alzheimer's disease. " Takes care of an elderly disabled person and his nephew. The discovery of the body of a young high school student committed suicide, the involvement of his nephew, his silences, the easy-going projects of a pseudo committee formed by the parents of young offenders, a school administrator from the soul buggy, and the interview with the mother of the girl, ( the disease at this meeting will play a key role), Mija will to engage in conduct perceived as "crazy." His decisions and his actions deserve, instead, respect and study. I think. He attended a course for aspiring poets. Poetry is his new demoiselle d'honneur, and that's how our Calliope separates slowly and inexorably, by a "civilization" in which, by now far away. Poetry is, for our protagonist, a "bridge" to new spaces of time and a warning for Humanity guiltily silent. A bridge, like the one above the great river Han. A river, the Han, who does not judge the disease or better, the torments of the soul. Indeed, these weeping souls, welcomes the bodies. Let us listen to the Han. It is the Messenger of Love. Song for Agunes You feel very lonely? The sky becomes red at sunset? I can still sing the birds flying into the woods? There, where you are, you can receive the letter that I've never written? You can listen to the confession that I've never done? The roses continue to fade with time? E 'high time for goodbyes Like the wind that lingers and then leaves As the shadows Love has remained secret until the last ... ... grass caressing my ankles tired And the little light footsteps following me It 'time to say goodbye Now that the darkness is coming It is still light a candle I pray Because no Should no longer shed tears of sorrow Why you'll finally know How deep was my love for you The long waits in the hot summer days The old trail that reminded me of my father's face And even the chrysanthemum So that Turns away How deeply you loved And how my heart beat When I heard your sweet song I give you my blessing Before crossing the great black river As the last breath left in my soul Once again, I relive my dream A sunny morning was closed And when you wake up blinded by the light Always find you There By my side. Good Click! Expand
  5. Jun 17, 2012
    8
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. As my way of introduction into Korean cinema, I had a good feeling about this film from the start. I found it to be a nuanced and subtly plotted film that operates on numerous levels. If a touch blase given the issues, this gentle character study of an aging woman becomes a meditation on sexuality, and how a young boy not only desecrates one of his classmates, but cheapens his grandmother by doing so. Elegantly shot, unfolding with a natural ease, the direction frames a finely acted central performance that is enriched by well rounded supporting cast (who gently dig at the protagonist throughout). The acuity of the performances, rich with meaning, gave me a heightened sense of awareness. A film that doesn't give you the answers, but allows you to draw your own conclusions. Most enjoyable. 'It's fake' Expand
  6. Feb 18, 2011
    6
    Simple and touching yet boring and impossible to relate. Even if it´s surprising to cope with a film whose main characters are middle class Asians. Still the film can not escape from it´s clichés. Nothing innovative, nothing special..Can´t help but underline that ¨Lyrical¨ is not the word. The word is "overweening". Restrain yourselves a bit...Lyrical and pompous enough to satiate Renaissance! Expand
  7. Dec 3, 2011
    0
    just terrible, terrible,terrible,terrible,terrible,terrible,terrible,terrible,terrible,terrible,terrible,terrible,terrible,just terrible,just terrible, terrible,terrible,terrible,terrible,terrible,terrible,terrible,terrible,terrible,terrible,terrible,terrible,just terrible Expand

See all 9 User Reviews

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