Best Screenplay ~ Cannes Film Festival
‘The key to poetry,’ says the teacher in Lee Chang-dong’s sublime new film, ‘is seeing, because we live by seeing. If you really see something, you can feel.’
In a nutshell, that is the journey of 66-year-old Mija (a terrific Yoon Jeong-hee), a woman who is raising a nihilistic teenaged grandson (Lee David) on her own and might have the beginnings of Alzheimer’s disease.
That she wants to take a poetry class is an acknowledgement that her life hasn’t made an impact. When she was in third grade, she explains, she was told she had the heart of a poet. Yet in the six decades since, she never wrote a poem.
Real life, it would seem, intruded. And now, with her life almost over, she wants simply to write a poem. But it is about more than that; in writing a poem, she wishes to understand. She wishes to see.
Mija begins to see a parallel between her life and the tragic suicide of a high school girl, who was repeatedly raped by her classmates – Mija’s grandson and his friends. The fathers of the other boys want to pay off the victim’s mother to keep them out of trouble.
So both women – the young suicide and the grandmother – never truly lived as adults. She might not have much time left, but Mija wants to rectify that. A heartrending film by a gifted, thoughtful filmmaker, Lee’s Poetry is indeed a work of art.
– G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle