A female companion-piece to Im's classic Mandala, this too rests on a contrast between sacred and profane approaches to Buddhist enlightenment. Sun-Nyo (Kang, superb) runs away from her broken home and her crush on a teacher to become a nun, expecting to pray and meditate. But the convent sends her out into the world, where she mixes with the poor and desperate and forms one sexual attachment after another with rough working-class men. Im compares her self-abasement with the more orthodox asceticism of another young nun, whose retreat from worldly things results in a brutal rape. The drama is rooted in a clear sense of social and psychological realities but lifted above mere social realism by Gu Joong-Mu's sensationally beautiful cinematography, mostly in shades of blue and grey.
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