Treeless Mountain (2008)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Childhood Drama, Family Drama  |   Release Date - Apr 22, 2009 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 89 min.  |   Countries - Korea, South , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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So Yong Kim's Treeless Mountain starts out on a sad note, as a mother (Soo Ah Lee) is forced to all but abandon her children, Jin (Hee Yeon Kim) and Bin (Song Hee Kim), to their uncaring aunt (Mi Hyang Kim). But something magical happens, for the audience watching as well as the children: what should be a near-tragic set of circumstances in the lives of these two girls instead becomes a lyrical and seductive look at childhood resiliency. Kim's camera and script bring us inside the world of these two girls, in all of their innocence and optimism, which survives even in the face of their mother's failure to reappear, and their aunt's eventual decision to pass the children along to their grandparents. The filmmaker conveys all of this through a thoroughly naturalistic approach to the two girls' portrayals, never telling us too much more than we need to know, or much more than the children themselves should (or could) know. One even starts to react to the adults around them from the point-of-view of the children, in sympathetic terms -- even the neglectful aunt -- and overcome our own, more experienced view of the world. Watching Treeless Mountain is one of the finest cinematic examples in recent years of the willing suspension of disbelief -- Kim's vision is beguilingly lyrical and very quiet, but never uninvolving; this is a movie where the smallest nuance demands attention. Indeed, the movie is thoroughly engrossing from the opening frame to the end credits, and it's a beautiful viewing experience.