Curious, good-natured 66-year-old Mija (Yoon) lives in a tiny apartment in a South Korean suburb with her sullen, ungrateful grandson. To make ends meet, she cares for an elderly man; then, to fill her free time, she enrolls in a poetry-writing class. At a routine doctor's visit, Mija also gets the bad news that she is in the early stages of Alzheimer's, but tells no one. Meanwhile, we learn that a young local girl has committed suicide after being raped — a tragic, senseless crime that dovetails with Mija's life in unexpected ways.
Director Lee Chang-dong ("Secret Sunshine") has been acclaimed as one of the most important voices in the New Wave of Korean cinema, and this subtle, multi-layered work gives ample evidence why. This richly observant study of an aging woman doing her best to cope with an unfulfilled life that's actually slipping away from her also functions as a deft, dense mystery story. At the heart of the film, Yoon Jeong-hee's heartrending performance is, like the film itself, sheer "Poetry."