A. Craig

A. Craig

Alyssa Craig, News Writer

One of my favorite people of all time is a South Korean man named Lee Chang-Dong, a writer and director with an impressive filmography. His last movie, “Poetry,” won the Best Screenplay Award at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival along with many others for both acting and directing. “Poetry” is a fascinating, humanistic look at contemporary Korea. This movie, along with much of Lee’s work, has an air that holds nothing back, yet it’s still restrained in an artful, calming way.

It follows the journey of a humble, elderly woman named Mija who had recently started to forget simple things like some common names of objects. It turns out that Mija is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. To make matters worse, her good-for-nothing grandson has entangled her in a cover-up controversy from an unforgivable act he and his friends committed. She must pay the mother of the victim a substantial amount of money to save the future and reputation of her grandson and his friends, unwittingly believing this to be her duty, despite being innocent of any wrongdoings. In all of this stress and tension, Mija just simply wishes to write one poem and see the world from a new, beautiful perspective.

“Poetry” is a movie that’s slow and methodical. It asks those who watch it to look at what it’s saying without forcing them to think a certain way. Mija plays both a victim and contributor to a cruel, patriarchal society⏤ a society that still greatly dominates Korea today. She does get to view the beautiful world she longed to see in her poetry class, but, with that, she cannot escape the raw cruelty that is interlaced within humanity. All this is captured in the masterful ending which is elegant, somber, and captivating. While not my favorite film from Lee, it’s still amazing and impactful, giving me high expectations for his next movie, “Burning,” an adaption of one of Murakami Haruki’s short story.