South Korea has inundated the Western film market with a blitzkrieg of effulgent flicks: “The Housemaid”, “Breath” and now “Poetry” all comprehensively stunning, thought- provoking and captivating to behold.
Yun Jung-hee stars in “Poetry” a film by Lee Chang-dong. She is Mija, a beauty at 66, effervescent, joyous struggling with a surly, indolent, obstreperous grandson, Wook, (played sourly, glumly by David Lee), while working as a maid and caretaker for a stroke victim. She is powerfully positive facing insidious, encroaching Alzheimer’s and enrolls in a poetry class, knowing she has a poetic vein struggling to assert itself. The movie glimmers with insight, wisdom, as the teacher reveals to the expectant students the secret of unearthing their poetic fountain; “looking” is the formula, looking within one’s mind and spirit, also “seeing” the plethora of earthly delights, pervasive yet ignored ; every living soul has a poem lurking, longing to burst forth. As the students talk about their happiest moments, pretentions dissipate, truth surfaces, the insignificant gives birth to the meaningful; a miraculous transformation.
Mija is a jewel, regardless of the darkness descending over her life, the dreaded loss of control, she dresses with style, simple elegance and vanquishes with charm and realism every tribulation. This performance resonates with genius, no rampart could withstand the onslaught of Ms. Jung-hee translucent talents; she is the embodiment, the emblem, the saint of skill and bestows upon “Mija” an elite and well-deserved legacy in the archives of cinema history.
Richard C. Wilbur (U.S. Poet Laureate 1987-88) stated that “one of the jobs of poetry is to make the unbearable bearable, not by falsehood but by clear, precise confrontation.” “Poetry” embodies, emblazons with painful clarity and purity that confrontation can vanquish the superficial, mundane giving birth to a poem of such magnitude that all who have composed before or hence will bow in awe and reverence at its sacredness.