This exploration of grief in contemporary South Korea plods along adequately and intelligently but never achieves the higher notes of human suffering and emotion that it threatens to hit. Shin-Ae (Jeon) is a vulnerable younger mother who arrives in Miryang from Seoul with her young son Jun following the death of her husband. She immediately attracts the desire of unexceptional local guy Jong-Chan (Song), whose repeated attention is one of the more wearying aspects of the film. Grief turns to horror when Jun is kidnapped and found dead, pushing Shin-Ae to embrace Christianity as a release-valve for her escalating pain. Jeon’s committed performance – which won the best actress prize at Cannes – is the most impressive element of a film that fails to engage as fully as its story demands. Solid, but never transcendent.
Lee Chang-Dong, Jeon Do-yeon, Song Kang-Ho
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