– Melissa Anderson

Lyrical compositions serve more serious purposes in Lee Chang-dong’s Competition entry, Poetry. Lee, last in contention for the Palme d’Or with 2007’s Secret Sunshine (for which Jeon Do-yeon took home the Best Actress prize), creates another powerful narrative about a woman raising a child on her own. Mija (Yoon Jeong-hee), a proper, sixtyish home aide in the early stages of dementia, lives with her sullen adolescent grandson, whose mother is looking for work in Pusan. Enrolling in a poetry class, Mija anxiously awaits inspiration from the muses—which arrives the moment she decides her charge must finally suffer the consequences of a heinous act he has committed. Perfectly paced and performed, Poetry stands out as both a quietly scathing condemnation of male violence (and the craven attempts to cover it up) and an ode to the strength—and moral compass—of senescent women.