Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 69


Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,593
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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


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Critic Reviews for Poetry

All Critics (69) | Top Critics (22) | Fresh (69)

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

    Jan 4, 2012 | Full Review…
  • Those with an eye for reading between the lines can find layers of meaning.

    Jan 4, 2012 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Dec 29, 2011

    Justin Chang

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

    Jul 29, 2011 | Rating: 4/5
  • It is a picture of something inexpressibly gentle and sad, something heartbreaking and absolutely normal, but something stirred up by a violent, alien incursion.

    Jul 28, 2011 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jul 27, 2011 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    David Jenkins

    Time Out
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Poetry

  • Jan 23, 2014
    Wonderfully subtle, undeniably powerful.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Nov 22, 2013
    Back in 2006-2007, I took one year of literature class. The final topic of the course was "Poetry", just before hitting the final exam. Before stepping into the subject, we were asked about our opinions on poetry. There was a heated argument between a classmate that claimed that poetry was gibberish, sentimental and pretentious garbage with no coherent or logical structure to convey authentic messages, but only random words put together so that they sound "pretty", and me. The rest of the classroom grabbed popcorn to see the word fight between us. I remember him talking more than me. However, I was concise and expressed that poetry has the capacity to unravel the deepest emotional mysteries of the human heart, and it is through language and metaphors through which we can express ideas that conventional language cannot. Therefore, poetry can be the most meaningful and beautiful art form available for mankind. What happened next, I never forgot. The teacher agreed with me, and kicking off his Power Point presentation, the first sentences read: (Title) What is Poetry? (1st Paragraph) The highest art form; an intellectual activity, not a sentimental one; a way of knowledge; a game. The other guy hated me forever and was an inch away from kicking my ass (he was your typical American-football-team-gym-macho-bodybuilder), but that's far away from the point. Shi reminds the purpose of such art form. With a fantastic leading performance by Jeong-hie Yun, a renowned actress with a long trajectory behind, we step into the shoes of a misunderstood woman whose life is shattered by an event bigger in size and impact than her own strength... or so it may seem. She finds confort in a poetry class, and her scope about things start to change. I still firmly believe that any artistic means of expression can shape oneself's existence, and therefore my love for films, among several other representations. The journey she takes hits very sensitive notes. Even if not all decisions she took throughout may be approved by our moral/ethical code, the journey she starts visiting places, letting nature speak to her, appreciating the road ahead of her, talking to people and trying to unleash the wings of her "poetess heart" are key activities to live. It is a wake up call for audiences absorbed by external wordly pressures. The fact that the movie is directed with remarkable theatrical naturalism and gorgeous sceneries just accentuates the movie's purpose with an elegant delicacy. Admiring God's infinite creation is my particular way of living. 88/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Jan 20, 2013
    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.
    Luke B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 03, 2012
    An uneven, overlong drama that wants to discuss many subjects but gets lost among ideas that are not fully developed or well explored, and so it is clear that it should have been better edited and focused more on the protagonist's fascination with poetry and inspiration.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer

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