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Poetry (2011)



Average Rating: 8.6/10
Reviews Counted: 61
Fresh: 61 | Rotten: 0

Poetry is an absorbing, poignant drama because it offers no easy answers to its complex central conflict.


Average Rating: 9/10
Critic Reviews: 21
Fresh: 21 | Rotten: 0

Poetry is an absorbing, poignant drama because it offers no easy answers to its complex central conflict.



liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 5,946

My Rating

Movie Info

A sixty-something woman, faced with a crippling medical diagnosis and the discovery of a heinous family crime, finds strength and purpose when she enrolls in a poetry class. Lee Chang-dong's follow-up to his acclaimed Secret Sunshine is a masterful study of the subtle empowerment - and moral compass - of an elderly woman. -- (C) Kino


Art House & International, Drama

Chang-dong Lee

Aug 23, 2011


Kino International - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (61) | Top Critics (21) | Fresh (61) | Rotten (0) | DVD (1)

True to the title, writer-director Lee Chang-dong is principally concerned with rendering emotions that seem inexpressible.

January 4, 2012 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Those with an eye for reading between the lines can find layers of meaning.

January 4, 2012 Full Review Source: Hollywood Reporter
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A deceptively gentle tale with a tender ache at its center, as well as a performance from Yun Jung-hee that lingers long in the memory.

December 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Anyone who starts a film going to poetry classes is eventually going to come up with a poem. The one Mija finally delivers will rip your heart to shreds.

July 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Writer and director Chang-dong Lee's film is moving without ever stooping to melodrama; Yun is the main reason why.

May 19, 2011 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"Poetry" is daring in the ways only quiet, unhurried but finally haunting films have the courage to be.

May 5, 2011 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

But what's so surprising about Poetry is Lee's unassuming mastery over the elements therein.

June 2, 2014 Full Review Source: Film School Rejects
Film School Rejects

Lee is concerned with beauty in much the same way a philosopher might be -- its transcendent nature, its presence in nearly everything.

October 25, 2011 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

A valiant and touching psychodrama about an aging woman who takes on the challenge of writing her first poem from the experiences that stir her heart.

August 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

A beautifully acted, deeply moving tale that brings a lump to the throat.

July 31, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

A fascinating, satisfying film with a remarkable central performance.

July 31, 2011 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

In the way of good cinema, the full experience is entirely unsentimental and poetic.

July 29, 2011 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

It is a picture of something inexpressibly gentle and sad, something heartbreaking and absolutely normal, but something stirred up by a violent, alien incursion.

July 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Guardian | Comment (1)

Beautifully shot, brilliantly written and featuring a terrific lead performance from Yun Jung-hee, this is a thought provoking, emotionally engaging drama that would make a superb double bill with Bong Joon-ho's Mother.

July 28, 2011 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

How many times have we seen the components of this plot? The crimes of the young; the trials of the old; the lone individual fighting for truth and decency. But they were never mixed like this before.

July 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

What makes Poetry so involving is that it's never clear how the story will be resolved.

July 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

From Alzheimer's, rape and suicide, Lee has created real poetry.

July 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

Yoon's performance, nuanced and subtle, is superb, while the film is long and languid so adjustments and allowances must be made both for its pace and, at times, for its poetry. But the effort is well worth it.

July 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

[Yun Jung-hee's] quiet gestures, gentle gaze and tender pose transform themselves into stanzas as they rhyme with Lee's cinema.

July 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Electric Sheep
Electric Sheep

Devoid of the ultra-violence so often associated with Korean cinema, Poetry is quiet and unhurried, making its portrait of social bleakness all the more impactful.

July 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Well-crafted and compelling, if a little inaccessible to western audiences...

July 24, 2011 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Sensitive, almost to a fault, Lee Chang Dong's Poetry is a well-observed but minor effort from one of the top Korean filmmakers.

July 13, 2011 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for Poetry

Poetry's greatest achievement is that is raises many question but avoids answering them, the downfall for many films but perfectly handled here. The disorder of life and of modern society in comparison to the old ways that aren't that much better and vice versa are studied so delicately and so subtly, the film is almost like Poetry itself. Everything good that happens and everything bad that happens it to a degree a matter of opinion but how we view the world and each other is key in this masterful tale by director Chang-dong Lee. Jeong-hie Yun's performance is tender and understated and is probably my favourite performances of the year, maybe even of all time.
February 28, 2013

Super Reviewer

I hate it when I hear a movie is inspirational and then you realise it is really just an ass-kissing fest towards somebody who has done something that society deems great. Poetry is a truly inspirational film, one with a power that may change the way you look at the world. The film sees the return of actress Yun Jeong Hie, as a grandmother who joins a poetry class after she finds she is forgetting simple words. Things become complicated when her grandson is accused of raping a girl and she must raise some hush money for the victims family. It's a strong and unforgettable film that never slaps you about with how you should be feeling. The moments where the film examines poetry are enough to make you want to grab a pen and paper, or just stare at a tree. The performances are consistently amazing, capturing those heartbreaking situations without a huge song and dance. This is one of Lee Chang Dong's greatest achievements, and coming from the man who gave us Oasis, that is no small feat. Beautifully shot, contemplative, with a delicate tone about it. A film I wanted to instantly watch again.
January 20, 2013

Super Reviewer

An irregular, overlong drama that wants to discuss many subjects but gets lost among ideas that are not fully developed or well explored. It could have been better edited and focused more on the protagonist's fascination with poetry and inspiration.
May 27, 2012

Super Reviewer

It is hard to put in to words, but originally when I read the synopsis of this film I was very apprehensive. An ailing woman begins to take poetry classes while her grandson is caught up in up a event that could compromise his future. I assumed that this poetry class would awaken something inside her that would equip her for this trial in life. All the while serene and beautiful images float across the screen to delicate strings. Sweet but manipulative.
Well, I have to say I was wrong. Dead wrong.
In fact, for a film that SHOULD have been wrought with sentimentality, it was surprisingly austere. The film was adorned with very little music, and no fancy camera work. The woman's artistic journey is sincere and shows that even though you may be feeling the emotion, most people cannot translate that to the page. Oddly enough, as this woman continues to toil in her tragically poetic life, I found myself wanting to write the poetry for her. Every scene became a new stanza in my mind and I tried to make up for the protagonist's inability to capture the moment in words. Rather than create unexpected inspiration, Lee waits for understanding, which takes time. This isn't a film to rush through. It must unravel before you if you are to make any sense of her journey. They state in the film that to write poetry is to seek beauty, which I find Lee marvelously accomplishes.
January 11, 2012
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

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