Poetry (aka Shi) review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
Poetry is a South Korean drama about a woman’s struggle to understand her place in the world as she battles with Alzheimer’s; she lives hand to mouth on government welfare and struggles to deal with her insolent grandson, however almost on a whim she finds herself joining a writers group as she develops an interest in poetry: here her courage and personal resolve are strengthened, which is all for the good considering the painful decision that awaits at the film’s close.
Poetry manages to be both tragic and uplifting; whilst the lead Mija (Yun Jeong-hie in her first role in fifteen years) finds her life falling apart around her the film retains a sense of control and patience so severe it almost verges on restrained. Yet somehow this works for the film, as the beauty and grace of the creativity and courage of Mija, supported by Jeong-hie’s excellent performance, help to keep you entangled in the drama.
The darker aspects of the movie are disturbing enough to truly tear at you, yet their actual on screen appearance lacks something; they come across as little more than your everyday villainous character, lacking any strong sense of identity – which is unfortunate considering that all the elements for a truly heartbreaking character sit within the film’s plot, yet somehow the acting fails to bring that to life.
The film is rescued at its climax by the achingly painful and beautiful poem that Mija has constructed after the devastating events of the last few weeks. The words genuinely almost brought a tear to my eye and to see Jeong-hie read them with such an air of tragic grace was truly moving.