DVD Treeless Mountain  [Region 0] (DVD 6234301),
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Treeless Mountain  [Region 0]
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TREELESS MOUNTAIN is abundant in the only special effect that Hollywood's magical movie-making machines can never generate: sincerity. It is the story of two Korean girls (ages approximately seven and five) whose innocence is tested as they get passed from home to home while their mother searches for their absent father. With only her second film, writer-director So Yong Kim (IN BETWEEN DAYS) has immediately ascended into the history of cinema about children with this exquisite depiction of the accelerated evaporation of the purity of youth. In recent memory, only Abbas Kiarostami has traveled similar ground with such authenticity and grace.
The narrative of the mother's abandonment, combined with the superb "performances" of the two adorable protagonists (non-actors), is more than enough to evoke the sympathy of the audience, but Kim has higher aspirations. The script is full of specific objects and ideas that appear as simple elements of plot before emerging as sublime symbols of something else, for both the girls and the viewer. A piggy bank, a bus stop, a field of grasshoppers: for the girls, Jin and Bin, these become the means for bringing their mother home, while for the audience, they represent the girls' delicate delusions about the unnecessary complexity of adulthood. Kim makes the action episodic by periodically inserting a series of still landscape shots, which nurture contemplation and place the particulars of the story in a larger context. Considering that all of us were children, and half of us are female, the number of realistic films about the lives of young girls is appallingly sparse, which means that Kim's film would be important based solely on its subject. But the magical way she sews the haunted hopes and confused sorrows of these young heroines into our hearts makes her film a masterpiece.
Hee Yeon Kim, Song Hee Kim, Soo Ah Lee, Mi Hyang Kim, Boon Tak Park
"[I]t has the tang of real life, though this is realism that has been filtered through 60 or so years of world art cinema..."
New York Times
5 stars out of 5 -- "[A] quiet, powerful human drama....Writer/director So Yong Kim trains her camera on the young actresses in such constant close-up we immediately feel as trapped as a child and similarly as aware."
"[The director's] choice to fill the screen with nearly everything she shoots has the effect of making plastic toys look like talismans and adult faces look almost mythical in their kindness or indifference." -- Grade: B+
"TREELESS MOUNTAIN blends autobiography with fiction....Kim's camera binds us gently but tightly within the shattered world of two little Korean sisters....[An] undeniably wrenching tale."
Los Angeles Times
4 stars out of 5 -- "So coaxes superlative performances from her adorable leads, creating an enchanting, challenging film without ever sliding into sentiment."
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Hee Yeon Kim
Song Hee Kim
Soo Ah Lee
So Yong Kim
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