October 20, 2009

Treeless Mountain: No Small Wonder Just Two Small Actors Wondering

Director Kim So Yong's sophomore effort Treeless Mountain isn't looking to do anything really big. It's focused on small moments. In fact, I'd go so far as to say its main preoccupation is "waiting" as if the film were some juvey Waiting for Godot recast with orphans Jin (Kim Hee-yeon) and Bin (Kim Song-hee) waiting for their mom (Lee Soo-ah) instead of Godot. Like Didi and Gogo, these two young'uns have their visual gags (one wears a powderblue fairy dress) and their acts of desperation (they collect crickets to sell as snacks to the neighborhood kids). Yet despite these Beckettesque touches and some arresting cinema verite camera shots, Treeless Mountain ends up an overly arty slice-of-life that never makes a persuasive case for the drama of existential inaction. Try as Kim might, the lot of nothing showcased here adds up to very, very little. Intercut all Kim's affectedly spare exchanges with grand landscapes of setting suns and drifting clouds, and suddenly something mildly boring becomes something ridiculously pretentious. And while I hate to single out a child actor, Hee-yeon's performance as the older sibling quickly deteriorates from arrestingly lost to ineffectively sullen. You can almost see her little mind saying "Stay depressed" in scene after scene. A little less silence might have helped her immensely.

1 comment:

  1. I can't agree with that review at all. i thought
    it was a marvellous movie with terrific performances from the two leads. the younger one had a great face.