Review: Poetry, the Movie

Posted: under Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , August 18th, 2011

by Kelly

by Kelly

I watched an amazing movie over the weekend. It was a South-Korean film called Poetry.

The movie jacket boasts a host of awards from recognized film festivals like Cannes, Toronto, Telluride and New York. After seeing the film, I understand why. It has a very quiet nature, and yet it builds to a fascinating climax.

The movie doesn’t have anything to do with haiku, per se, but it does question the origin of poetic inspiration, a topic that — of course — interests me as Alison and I are now deep into year three of Haiku By Two.

The main character of the film, a 60-ish woman named Mija, has recently been told by her doctors that she has Alzheimer’s Disease.

She doesn’t know what to do with this information. After all, her high-school aged grandson (whom she is raising) seems downright incapable of behaving in any sort of civilized manner, and her daughter (the grandson’s mother) lives in another city. Mija is, it seems, on her own when it comes to addressing the needs of her disease.

On a whim, she registers for a poetry class at her local community center. There, she hopes to discover an artistic muse. She desperately wants to write one good poem before she loses her grasp on language, but doesn’t know where to look for inspiration.

At a time when Mija should be focusing her energy and money on herself, however, she learns that her grandson has been involved in an awful crime. A local young woman has killed herself and Mija’s grandson, along with a handful of his friends, are accused of causing the situation that led to the suicide.

Given her Alzheimer’s, will Mija be able to fully grasp the seriousness of her grandson’s crime? Will she be able to help him escape arrest? And will she ever find her muse and write the perfect poem?

Poetry is not the kind of movie that features eye-popping special effects, and it is not the kind of movie that will have you griping your armrest in suspense. But it is the kind of movie that gets under your skin. Poetry is the kind of movie you need to watch with someone else so that you have a discussion partner at the end.

I, unfortunately, watched it by myself, and thus have been dying to talk about it with someone (anyone!) who has experienced it and can help me digest the story.

If you’ve seen it, drop me a comment and let me know what you thought about it, especially the end!

Or, if this post so moves you, rent it and watch it, then come back here and tell me what you think!



  • 1

    Kelly, I have not heard of this movie. Your comments intrigue me, so will make an effort to see this movie with another person. Thank you for sharing this information. Have a great day!.

    Comment by Kim Connell — August 18, 2011 @ 9:44 am

  • 2

    I’m intrigued… I must rent it and I hope I can find it!

    Comment by Alison — August 21, 2011 @ 7:14 pm

  • 3

    it was a touching movie about sensing what is around her—. I watched it and was not disappointed. There were social comments about korea, family, men, but also we forget to see and sense what is around us–and how to react to it. The opem is very moving. I watched it on Fandor– though I can’t say the experience with them is perfect, they have issues as far as digital output.

    Comment by Mike — August 27, 2011 @ 2:02 pm

  • 4

    You might also read up on the Wikipedia review and interests:

    I have been searching for the poem she wrote– very touching and beautiful.

    Comment by Mike — August 27, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

  • 5

    I loved the movie, too, and have some questions. The policeman who came to visit Mija with another man,who took the grandson away–had Mija told the policeman about her grandson’s crime and was the grandson taken to jail?

    Where can we get a copy of Mija’s poem? Did she become the dead girl in writing it?

    Did Mija get the money for the dead girl’s mother only for the sake of the dead girl’s mother and not for the sake of her son?

    Comment by barbara — September 1, 2011 @ 1:14 am

  • 6

    Hi Kelly, thanks for your great suggestion. I found the movie in a theater in Montreal and I went this afternoon. It touched me deeply. Being around the same age as the grandmother, I did ask myself how I would react receiving the same diagnosis.

    Desappearing as she did while the poem she was finally able to write talked about the young girl suicide, is in my opinion a gesture of self dignity.

    In my understanding of the movie, the moment the grandmother is falling into tears contains the turning point of the story. I suppose she opened herself to the poem-reader-policeman who accepted to teach her grandson a lesson so he could grow up from his serious misconduct, and she arranged for him to return with his mother so she could go in peace before the degenerative disease leaves her totally dependant of others.

    I see Poetry as a celebration of life, in the simple beauty of nature and its cycles, in the daily gestures, in the search for inspiration, even in the act of ending it by choice.

    I feel a little sad about it though.

    Comment by Nicole Charbonneau — September 6, 2011 @ 7:23 pm

  • 7

    I, too, suspect that the grandmother set up her grandson’s arrest with the policeman she met at the bar.

    I also wonder about the end. It certainly feels, from the repeated image of the river running, that Mija chose the same fate as the girl.

    But another one of my questions has to do with the scene where Mija goes and meets the girl’s mother in the field. Mija was supposed to ask her about a money gift in exchange for not pursuing charges, but she didn’t. It seemed that Mija had an honest moment of forgetfullness, that her Alzheimer’s had stepped in, but then later I wasn’t too sure about that. I wondered if Mija chose to not bring up the subject …

    I do not know if there is a copy of the poem she wrote anywhere out there online. I suppose that would require some Googling….

    Comment by Kelly — September 7, 2011 @ 6:08 am

  • 8

    I found the poem at this website (right after the image galery):
    Happy to share it with you all.

    “Agnes Song”

    How is it over there?
    How lonely is it?
    Is it still glowing red at sunset?
    Are the birds still singing on the way to the forest?
    Can you receive the letter I dared not send?
    Can I convey…
    the confession I dared not make?
    Will time pass and roses fade?
    Now it’s time to say goodbye
    Like the wind that lingers and then goes,
    just like shadows
    To promises that never came,
    to the love sealed till the end.

    To the grass kissing my weary ankles
    And to the tiny footsteps following me
    It’s time to say goodbye
    Now as darkness falls
    Will a candle be lit again?
    Here I pray…
    nobody shall cry…
    and for you to know…
    how deeply I loved you
    The long wait in the middle of a hot summer day
    An old path resembling my father’s face
    Even the lonesome wild flower shyly turning away
    How deeply I loved
    How my heart fluttered at hearing faint song
    I bless you
    Before crossing the black river
    With my soul’s last breath
    I am beginning to dream…
    a bright sunny morning…
    again I awake blinded by the light…
    and meet you…
    standing by me.

    Comment by Nicole Charbonneau — September 7, 2011 @ 6:09 pm

  • 9

    By leaving white flowers as a parting gift for her poetry teacher, Mija wants to assert or, perhaps, plea, her innocence but, it seems, she is forced to accept her responsibility for her grandson’s reprehensible actions (Remember her asking her grandson, “What’s the most important thing your Grandma wants to see you do?”).

    So, she chooses to reveal the pay-off deal to the cops, severs her ties with her biological family (not even saying good by to her grandson while he is taken away by the cops), and then commits suicide in hope of becoming united with her true family, the soul of the girl tormented to death…
    (“I am beginning to dream…
    a bright sunny morning…
    again I awake blinded by the light…
    and meet you…
    standing by me.. )

    An amazingly thought-provoking and spirit-touching movie.

    Comment by mark — October 10, 2011 @ 1:27 pm

  • 10

    Wow I just saw this movie last night and I’m still thinking about it. Had to find out if other’s saw the movie and got the same feelings as I did. Very awesome film!

    Comment by Michael — February 24, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

  • 11

    Beautiful film. Just lovely. I am 66 also, a female, with lost loves, and beginning memory problems. so I relate.
    I printed out the poem and thought the other poems in the movie were wonderful too?
    I’m searching for those.

    Comment by Sarah — February 29, 2012 @ 11:55 am

  • 12

    I have just seen the movie. I wasn’t able to see the beginning but the ending still gave me that eerie sensation crawling under my skin. I didn’t expect the story would end that way. The beginning of her writing a poem depicted someone’s ending. There seems to be an irony in it. It’s beautiful. Disturbingly calming. ^_^

    Comment by colin — February 1, 2013 @ 11:04 pm

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