Superficially, Poetry is a miserable tale of rape, suicide, and the onset of Alzheimer’s, yet its most important keyword is its title. While the plot components may suggest a relentlessly grim wallow (a teenage girl takes her life after terrible suffering at the hands of her classmates) or heavy-handed melodrama (a woman diagnosed with dementia is inspired to pen verse), the reality is neither. Deteriorating memory and poetic aspirations instead knit into an affecting metaphor for fully appreciating the world around you, and every moment spent in it.Jeong-hee Yoon, in her first role since 1994, is superb as aspiring poet Mija, her subtle performance anchoring the film through occasional periods of narrative slackness. But the unhurried pace feels appropriate, as Mija searches for inspiration in the present, whilst her past is stolen by illness and her future threatened by a heavy familial burden. When her writing is eventually voiced in an enigmatic denouement, the emotional impact is considerable.
Out 28th November