Poetry (film)

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Poetry

Theatrical release poster
Directed byLee Chang-dong
Produced byLee Joon-dong
Written byLee Chang-dong
StarringYoon Jeong-hee
CinematographyKim Hyunseok
Editing byKim Hyun
StudioPine House Film
Distributed byN.E.W.
Release date(s)
  • 13 May 2010 (2010-05-13)
Running time139 minutes
CountrySouth Korea
LanguageKorean
BudgetKRW 1,300,000,000[1]
Box office$2,230,640[2]
 
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Poetry

Theatrical release poster
Directed byLee Chang-dong
Produced byLee Joon-dong
Written byLee Chang-dong
StarringYoon Jeong-hee
CinematographyKim Hyunseok
Editing byKim Hyun
StudioPine House Film
Distributed byN.E.W.
Release date(s)
  • 13 May 2010 (2010-05-13)
Running time139 minutes
CountrySouth Korea
LanguageKorean
BudgetKRW 1,300,000,000[1]
Box office$2,230,640[2]

Poetry (Korean: ; translit. Shi) is a 2010 South Korean drama film written and directed by Lee Chang-dong. It tells the story of a suburban woman in her 60s who begins to grow an interest for poetry while struggling with Alzheimer's disease and her irresponsible grandson. Yoon Jeong-hee stars in the leading role, which was her first role in a film since 1994. The film was selected for the main competition at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Best Screenplay Award. Other accolades include the Grand Bell Awards for Best Picture and Best Actress.

Contents

Plot

Yang Mija is a 66-year old grandmother living on government welfare and a small job taking care of an elderly man. She takes care of her grandson, whose divorced mother lives in Busan. He is spiteful and runs the home.

Despite the fact that the registration period is over, she enters a poetry class at the local community center. At the suggestion of her teacher she begins writing notes on the things she sees.

Her grandson only interacts with his five male friends from school. After a poetry class, Mija meets the fathers of the group of friends only to discover that the group has, over a period of six months, repeatedly raped a girl at their school. The victim left a diary at home before committing suicide. The diary is discovered and in order to avert a full police investigation, the parents of the boys offer to pay a settlement to the family affected.

Despite the troubles in her life and the pain she sees in the lives of others, she cannot help but focus on the positive things she sees instead. Yang visits the mother of the victim and strengthens her resolve to bring the young men, including her grandson, to justice.

However, another way of reading Yang's change of heart is to attribute this change to the empathic link she develops with the girl's mother, rather than due to perceived wrongs which must be righted in order to satisfy some abstract notion of justice. Indeed, the appeal to the notion of justice in the previous paragraph's analysis seems to run counter to the overall message of the film. What "Poetry" is attempting to convey is not a formulaic solution to an unusual social happening, but rather a human response to a human tragedy.

Cast

Production

The idea for the film had its origin in a true case where a small town schoolgirl had been raped by a gang of teenage boys. When Lee Chang-dong heard about the incident it made an impact on him, although he was never interested in basing a film on the actual events. Later, during a visit in Japan, Lee saw a television program in his hotel room. The program edited entirely from relaxing shots of nature, "a peaceful river, birds flying, fishermen on the sea -- with soft new age music in the background", and a vision for a possible feature film started to form: "suddenly, it reminded me of that horrible incident, and the word 'poetry' and the image of a 60-year old woman came up in my mind."[3]

Lee wrote the lead character specifically for Yoon Jeong-hee, a major star of Korean cinema from the 1960s and 1970s. Yoon has expressed satisfaction with how the role differs from what she typically played in the past: "I’ve always had the desire to show people different aspects of my acting and (Lee) provided me with every opportunity to do just that."[4] Prior to Poetry, the last film Yoon appeared in was Manmubang from 1994.[5] Production was led by Pine House Film, founded in 2005 by the director, with co-production support from UniKorea Culture & Art Investment.[6]

Filming started 25 August 2009 and ended three months later in the provinces Gyeonggi-do and Gangwon.[7] Lee was initially worried that Yoon's long experience might have bound her to an outdated acting style, but was very pleased with her attitude: "she performed her scenes with a willingness to discuss and this is something that’s difficult to find even in younger actors."[4]

Release

On 13 May 2010, N.E.W. released Poetry in 194 South Korean theaters with a gross revenue corresponding to around 258,000 US dollars during the first weekend.[8] As of 1 August 2010, Box Office Mojo reported a total revenue of $1,301,057 dollars in the film's domestic market.[9] The film sold 220,693 tickets nationwide in South Korea.[10] The international premiere took place at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, where Poetry was screened on 19 May as part of the main competition.[11] The Korean DVD was released on 23 October 2010 and includes English subtitles.[12] The film will be distributed theatrically in the United States by Kino International.[13]

Critical response

As of 18 September 2012, the film has a 100% approval rating from critics with 59 reviews on film review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, with a weighted average of 8.6 out of 10, and among "top critics" a 9.6 out of 10 with 14 reviews.[14] At Metacritic, based on 19 critical reviews the film had a 89 out of 100, categorizing it as having received "universal acclaim".[15] "Given the abundant potential for missteps into sappiness with this sort of premise", Justin Chang wrote in Variety, "what's notable here is the lack of sentimentality in Lee's approach. At no point does Poetry devolve into a terminal-illness melodrama or a tale of intergenerational bonding". Chang continued by noting how Lee's background as a novelist sometimes shows through, and that "[t]here are longueurs here ... that could be trimmed, though overall this absorbing film feels considerably shorter than its 139 minutes."[16]

Accolades

Lee won the Best Screenplay Award at the Cannes Film Festival.[17] At the Grand Bell Awards, Poetry won the prizes for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor.[18] The film received the Korean Critics Awards for Best Picture and Best Screenplay.[19] The jury of the Blue Dragon Film Awards decided to exclude Poetry from the selection, since Lee had announced that he would boycott the ceremony. Still, they nominated Yoon for Best Actress as they thought the director's decision should not affect the cast.[20] The award was eventually shared by Yoon and Soo Ae, for her performance in Midnight FM.[21] Lee received the award for Best Achievement in Directing and Yoon for Best Performance by an Actress at the 2010 Asia Pacific Screen Awards.[22] The film was also nominated in the categories Best Feature Film and Best Screenplay.[23]. In December 2011 leading lady Jeong-hie Yun won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress for her performance marking the second time in as many years that a Korean actress won the award after Hye-ja Kim won for Madeo in 2010.

References

  1. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1287878/business
  2. ^ "Poetry (2011)". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=poetry.htm. Retrieved 27 February 2012. 
  3. ^ Park Soo-mee (2010-05-15). "Q&A: Lee Chang-dong". The Hollywood Reporter. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/qampa-lee-chang-dong-23661. Retrieved 2010-10-24. 
  4. ^ a b Song Woong-ki (2010-04-14). "Sixties era cinema icon returns to the big screen". The Korea Herald. http://www.koreaherald.co.kr/entertainment/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20100414000587. Retrieved 2010-04-15. 
  5. ^ Kim Yeon-ji (2010-05-14). "Leading lady back in the limelight". JoongAng Daily. http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2920410. Retrieved 2010-05-18. 
  6. ^ "Press kit English Poetry". Fine Cut. http://www.festival-cannes.com/assets/Image/Direct/033919.pdf. Retrieved 2010-05-15. 
  7. ^ Chung Ah-young (2009-08-28). "Actress Yoon Returns to Screen After 15 Yrs". The Korea Times. http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/art/2009/12/141_50853.html. Retrieved 2010-04-15. 
  8. ^ Han Sunhee (2010-05-17). "Cannes' 'Housemaid' cleans up in Korea". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118019482.html?categoryid=19&cs=1. Retrieved 2010-05-18. 
  9. ^ "South Korea Box Office, July 30–August 1, 2010". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/intl/korea/?yr=2010&wk=31&p=.htm. Retrieved 2010-10-24. 
  10. ^ http://www.hancinema.net/korean_movie_Poetry.php
  11. ^ "The screenings guide". festival-cannes.com. Cannes Film Festival. http://www.festival-cannes.fr/assets/File/Web/HORAIRES%202010/Horaire%20Projections.pdf. Retrieved 2010-05-18. 
  12. ^ "Poetry (DVD) (2-Disc) (First Press Limited Edition) (Korea Version)". YesAsia. Oricon. http://www.yesasia.com/global/poetry-dvd-2-disc-first-press-limited-edition-korea-version/1023571466-0-0-0-en/info.html. Retrieved 2010-10-24. 
  13. ^ Stewart, Andrew (2010-05-26). "Kino International lines up 'Poetry'". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118019883.html?categoryid=13&cs=1. Retrieved 2010-05-30. 
  14. ^ "Poetry". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/poetry_2010/. Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  15. ^ "Poetry" at Metacritic
  16. ^ Chang, Justin (2010-05-19). "Poetry Review". Variety. http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117942817.html?categoryId=31&cs=1. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  17. ^ Chang, Justin (2010-05-23). "'Uncle Boonmee' wins Palme d'Or". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118019731.html?categoryid=13&cs=1. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  18. ^ Park Soo-mee (2010-10-31). "'Poetry' Rings Korea's Grand Bell with Multiple Wins". The Hollywood Reporter. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/poetry-rings-koreas-grand-bell-33916. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  19. ^ Park Soo-mee (2010-10-23). "'Poetry' Wins Korean Critics' Prize". The Hollywood Reporter. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/poetry-wins-korean-critics-prize-32231. Retrieved 2010-10-24. 
  20. ^ Park Soo-mee (2010-11-10). "Korea's Blue Dragon Award Nominees Announced". The Hollywood Reporter. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/koreas-blue-dragon-award-nominees-43817. Retrieved 2010-11-10. 
  21. ^ Song Woong-ki (2010-11-28). "Satirical thriller ‘Sworn Enemy’ honored". The Korea Herald. http://www.koreaherald.com/entertainment/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20101128000277. Retrieved 2010-11-29. 
  22. ^ Chai, Paul (2010-12-02). "'Aftershock' wins Asia Pacific award". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118028300?refCatId=13. Retrieved 2010-12-02. 
  23. ^ Bulbeck, Pip (2010-10-18). "China's 'Aftershock' Leads APSA Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/chinas-aftershock-leads-apsa-nominations-30982. Retrieved 2010-10-18. 

External links