Treeless Mountain (US/South Korea 2008)

Dragging yourself up

This slice of director So Yung Kim’s life is blessed by wonderful performances by the leads (above) and cursed by the constant use of a long lens that renders the mise en scene flat and the compositions dominated by claustrophobic close ups. Whilst the handheld camera and location shooting signifies realism the flat depth of field negates their effect; for example, when the sisters are at a bus stop hoping their mum is returning it appears that the bus, once it leaves, will run them down so flat is the shot; it is distracting and ugly.

I imagine Kim had to do this so the camera was as far away as possible from the children making it easier for her to coax out engaging performances. However, the film’s slight narrative needs more.

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