January 5, 2009

The Way Home: Grandma's a Lovable Nincompoop... Seriously!

When an economically challenged mother (Dong Hyo-hee) dumps her city brat of a child (Yu Seung-ho) in the boonies with his hunchbacked grandmother (Kim Eul-boon), what the movies usually teach us (and the boy) is how that easily-dismissed, feeble-minded crone really isn't so stupid after all. In fact, she's a genius! That's not the case with Lee Jeong-hyang's The Way Home however. Grandma really is that dumb: She can't speak, she can't read, she can't write, she can't count change. She can barely get her point across -- when she has one to make -- with folksy hand gestures. She's got no street smarts or psychic insights about the weather either. As far as intelligence goes, all she's really got is enough to get by. She's a passable seamstress, a subsistence farmer, and a tireless hiker without even a pet to call company. Combine this uncomplaining stoicism with a quiet, unearned devotion to her grandson (and any nearby villager in need), and this little old lady doesn't qualify as a saint so much as a lovably pitiable old creature. Wait. Maybe that does constitute a saint! In that case, you could call The Way Home a hagiography, and a heavenly one at that.

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