Na-moo-eobs-neun san (2008) Poster

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9/10
Excellent film
mbkalkan18 April 2009
This film is about two girls left on their own, to their own devices, trying to survive the mental burdens -if not the physical ones as well- of being abandoned by their mother. It is a serene, moderately-paced, well-crafted film. The director's ability to get such high quality performance from two little girls is nothing short of amazing. As to its general mood, Treeless Mountain is a beautiful film which can, at certain times, be sad and heart-breaking, and at others cheerful and hopeful, presenting us a myriad of emotions throughout its duration, and which depicts how hope endures and how children view and can adapt to changing conditions and environment. To sum it up, this fine piece of Korean cinema is an innocent and emotional piece of art which I would sincerely recommend to anyone.
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10/10
Treeless Mountain
sarge-835-9465833 September 2010
Wow, I don't know what movie thevisitor967 watched, but I highly doubt it was "Treeless Mountain". This is one of the best movies I have ever had the pleasure of watching. It is an absolutely beautiful movie and I cannot recommend it highly enough. This is a movie that should get the Academy Award, not the junk that seems to be nominated and seem to win as of late.

I was blown away with the slight facial and voice changes that these two little girls put into this movie. The innocence was so beautiful to watch and it is hard to believe that they are not sisters in real life

A movie that you will not forget and if it doesn't touch you then check your pulse as I doubt that your still breathing.
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10/10
Very Moving
razmatazern8 June 2010
Treeless Mountain was an interesting look into the lives of two Korean children that were abandoned by their mother.

It was neat seeing the emotions and perspective from Jin and Bin's eyes. The determination to succeed at their quest of getting their mother back to them was touching. I found myself rooting for the girls and hoping that their mother would actually come back for them once they filled the piggy bank. I really enjoyed watching the progress of the piggy bank, and the creative ideas that Jin would come up with to fill it up as fast as they could.

The young actress that plays Jin (Hee Yeon-Kim) did a really good job expressing all the emotions and portraying her character very well. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this film, and I would definitely recommend it.
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Astounding look at Korean life.
eeeicram28 March 2009
I was extremely excited to see this film at the Cleveland International Film Festival. The film is full of atmosphere and the two children were excellent at portraying emotions through their faces. There are many close ups of faces which are breathtaking. It's definitely a cerebral film and it's one you have to completely immerse yourself to feel the full emotional effect.

The film was, obviously, on a shoe string budget and it shows throughout the film. The editing was quite choppy at times. Other than that I have no complaints.

This is my first Korean film and I'm hoping to see more.
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10/10
Allows us to see the world through the children's eyes
Howard Schumann29 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
A follow up to her remarkable first feature In Between Days - a coming-of-age story about a Korean immigrant girl's painful adolescence, Treeless Mountain loosely reflects the personal experiences of writer-director So Yong Kim who grew up in South Korea and immigrated to the U.S. when she was twelve years old. It is a meticulously observed portrait of two Korean girls, ages 5 and 7, coping with the terrors of having to rely mostly on their own resources when their mother leaves to search for their estranged father. Like Kelly Reichardt's minimalist Wendy and Lucy, not much happens in the way of plot but the film is less about what happens externally than internally - in the character's tentative groping toward maturity.

Kim's camera is always close to the girls' faces, allowing us to see the world through their eyes. It is still an innocent world but one that is becoming more knowing and, unfortunately, more acclimatized to the lies of adults. When seven-year-old Jin (Hee Yeon Kim) and her younger sister Bin (Song Hee Kim) are left by their mother (Soo Ah Lee) in the care of an alcoholic aunt (Mi Hyang Kim), she gives them a piggy bank and tells them that each time they listen to "Big Aunt", a coin will be deposited in their bank. When it is filled, she will return. Big Aunt is cold and cranky and clearly cannot handle the responsibility of caring for the young girls but is more annoying than abusive, calling them a "pain" to be around and berating young Bin for bed wetting.

In one scene, she gives the girls a bowl and tells them to beg the neighbors for sugar. In another, she demands money from a neighbor for a minor scratch Bin suffers when playing with her son. Bin and Jin manage to find friendship, however, with a little handicapped boy and pass the time by capturing and roasting grasshoppers to sell on the streets to help fill their piggy bank. When they discover that they can exchange one large coin for many small ones, they are one step closer to what they believe will be their mother's return. When the bank is filled, the girls wait for their mother at the bus stop, losing faith with each bus that comes and goes without their mother. It is a heartbreaking scene that brings back memories of classic neorealist films of the past.

Optimism and inner strength surface again, however, when, after receiving a letter from the girls' mother, Big Aunt delivers them to their grandparents farm in the countryside. In their return to nature, they can at last breathe free and open themselves to the caring they so desperately need. Recruited through the director's observations of children at local Korean schools rather than through talent agencies, the performances of Hee Yeon Kim and Song Hee Kim are models of authenticity.

There is never any sense that they are simply acting or going through the motions. In the tradition of Koreeda's Nobody Knows, and Ozu's I Was Born But.., Treeless Mountain avoids histrionics or crowd pleasing sentimentality. It is a film about particular children but one that has universal appeal, touching everyone who has experienced the fear of abandonment at one time or another. That means all of us.
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8/10
An enchanting and beautiful movie...
Paul Magne Haakonsen8 September 2012
"Treeless Mountain" is a rather unique and beautiful movie. It will take you through a multitude of emotions, ranging from sadness, to happiness, to filling you with hope and inspiration. This is really all owned up to the spectacular skills of the director So Yong Kim.

The story in "Treeless Mountain" is about a mom who have to leave her two young girls with their aunt as she sets out to find their estranged father. She leaves her daughters with a piggy bank and promises to return when it is full. The aunt gives the girls coins as they do hard chores but are otherwise mostly left to their own devices. Upon proving too difficult to take care of the girls, the aunt takes them to stay with the grandparents at their farm, where they girls come to know the true meaning of family value.

"Treeless Mountain" is not a fast-paced movie, it actually doesn't really take you long or far, but in the course of its length, you will be taken on a very life-affirming and inspiration journey with the two children as they take care of each other. The story told in "Treeless Mountain" is the type that will sink into your mind and stay with you for a long time, because it is really beautifully told and it is a very heart-warming story.

The movie wouldn't have been anything without the cast. And the performance by the two young girls, Hee-yeon Kim (playing Jin) and Song-hee Kim (playing Bin) were nothing short of spectacular. Their performances were so amazing, and they really carried the movie with grace. Of course, the director has a lot of credit here, but still, I was in awe at the talent of these two young girls.

If you enjoy Korean cinema, then you definitely should get acquainted with "Treeless Mountain", especially if you like dramas that will stick with you for a long, long time.
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6/10
Windless Mountains
Greywolf9071 October 2009
I am a little surprised that some of the comments here seem to be written by people with limited cinematic experience and who seem to think that a good film must contain huge amounts of CGI effects, explosions and Dumb US teenie actors flashing fake tans, implanted body parts and pearly white teeth.

This is a wonderful film, a film about human emotion through the eyes of children barely old enough to know what emotion is let alone act it.

I commend it to anyone who wants to sit down and spend an evening learning about a different culture writ large for those of us too dumb to know any better.
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8/10
a mountain of sentiment
froberts7322 January 2011
First of all, the so-called critic visitor967, or whatever, is brainless about "Treeless Mtn." He wanted action so let him watch the bundle of shoo-em and/or main-em movies.

This movie is, for the most part, a lovely sentimental offering that keeps you interested from the git-go. The children are charming, the story is warm and touching.

I do agree that it has no 'ending' but the time spent watching it is well worthwhile. The photography is beautiful.

It will warm the cockles of your heart. I'm not sure what a cockle is, but if you have a good, beating heart, you will enjoy this quiet gem.
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9/10
I can't understand how so many people didn't 'get' this film.
thegreatbeast200011 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Mr. Schumann's review was the best I've read here. He pretty much said everything I wanted to say. This is a beautiful film. It is not a Hollywood film and doesn't tie up everything neatly in the end. There is no denouement; the film ends and you are left with a pocket full of the wonders. The two young girls were not aspiring actresses with agents and head-shots. They could not have been better and I was shocked to find that they were not sisters. The director kept her camera close to kids' faces and sort of provides another proof of an old Eisenstein experiment. A tremendous film, truly moving in an almost Dickensian way. See it. I've been catching it on the Sundance Channel. It is scheduled to play on Saturday around 2:50pm. The date would be 1/15/11.
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7/10
Heartbreaking
asc8516 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I knew what I was getting into before seeing this film by reading the synopsis...how anyone couldn't know that is beyond me. Based on the synopsis, I thought this film might be like the Japanese "Nobody Knows," which is one of my all-time favorite films.

I don't think "Treeless Mountain" is as good, but I certainly was glad I saw it. But it is very, very sad, and the two little girls, especially the older one, did a fantastic job. The film certainly depicts their resiliency, but it is so sad that they essentially got screwed over in their life only because of who their Mom was, not for something they specifically did. Maybe they'll have a happy life, but only because they'll make the best out of a very unfortunate situation.

A little bit better than 7, but not quite an 8, in my opinion. If I could have put 7.5 as my rating, that's what I would have done.
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8/10
Mom's a big liar.
lastliberal20 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
What happens when your mother (Soo-ah Lee) leaves to reconcile with your dad because times are tough and says she will return when you fill the piggy-bank she gives you? Well, two sisters, Jin (Hee-yeon Kim) and Bin (Song-hee Kim) soon find out that they are on their own. Jin is only 6 and must mature quickly to care for her sister. Mom left them with their Aunt (Mi-hyang Kim), but she's not much help battling an alcohol problem.

They don't get fed regularly, so they catch grasshoppers to fry. They figure they can get change and fill the bank faster, but mom doesn't show as they expect.

Soon, Auntie ships them off to their grandparent's farm. At least now they will have plenty to eat.

It's tough to be separated from your parent. I could tell numerous stories of children that will put up with abuse to not be separated. This was a nice view of Korean life through the eyes of two little girls with angelic faces.
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6/10
South Korean woman director "So Yong Kim" gives a whole new meaning to films about children and adults.
FilmCriticLalitRao2 March 2010
It can be said about all viewers and critics assessing new meanings in Asian cinema that they would find "Treeless Mountain" as a different kind of South Korean film.After being successful on film festival circuit all over the world,this successful film by "So Yong Kim" has hit cinemas at a time when there are hardly any good South Korean films gaining worldwide fame."Treeless Mountain" is a different film as it has been made by a woman director who chose to take calculated risks by exploring hitherto mundane world of young children who have tough time living in a world full of cunning,selfish adults.All these points can be considered as some of this film's positive aspects. However,a serious problem about this film might diminish its rising popularity.This concerns the fact that "Treeless Mountain" is neither a complete film for children nor a film absolutely meant for adults.This is something which might distance viewers from forming a positive image of this film in their minds.If "So Yong Kim" has been able to score good points with her film,it is due to her crisp direction of a fairly honest story about the depiction of growing up of young kids.This is precisely which led film critic Lalit Rao to appreciate this film during 14th International Film Festival of Kerala 2009.
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8/10
Lives unblessed
paul2001sw-118 February 2012
Perhaps the first duty of a parent is to make their children believe that their lives are blessed, until they're old enough to deal with the fact that they are not. 'Treeless Mountain' may be slight, but it's pregnant with the horror implicit in its story of two young children abandoned by their mother. Director So Yong-Kim gets some beautiful performances from his very young cast (especially Hee-yeon Kim, who plays the older girl), there's a touch of eastern exoticism for the western audience (grasshoppers for dinner, anyone?), a treatment of poverty both sensitive and realistic, and in the end, a gleam of hope through the pain.
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9/10
Surviving without a parenting love and support.
Reno Rangan5 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
It was about two Korean kids which follows after their mother leave them in theirs aunt's house to fix her relationship with her husband. Their mother gives a piggy-bank and tells them will be back before it get full. So the mission begins to these kids fill the piggy-bank. But very soon everything turns upside down when their mother and aunt turn it down to take care. And what happens to their future is the remaining story.

It was a very close theme to 'Children of Invention' and 'Mommo'. Our heart really suffers to see the kids struggle to survive the world. In one minute they had everything in life like all the normal kids then in the next minute they unwanted to their dear ones. To see from the kids' perspective it was truly hurtful but the girls respond very well to the situations and for each others stays strong together.

There was a scene where kids involve in some cruel incident. Due to cultural difference (especially foods) it might make a bit uncomfortable with the sensitive audience. I mean I was saying about grasshoppers in the movie.

The direction was exceptional, the movie looked original and realistic. Both the kids were cute and did an awesome job. This is easily one of a best children's movie as well Korean.

9/10
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6/10
Should've just made a documentary.
very_evil_me10 July 2009
This is the second film I saw at the New Zealand International Film Festival and they had some projection problems with it, that must've been a sign to leave, but no, I stayed.

This is film an interesting look at Korean life, we are shown some very intimate aspects of the lives of these two young Korean girls, but unfortunately, that's all it is. It is rather personal but my parents grew up in the Chinese countryside and I've been to visit my grandparents farms and there the lives of my second cousins were very similar to those of these girls. This film depicts the ordinary for so many poor people, it wasn't engaging. I was bored half-way through and waiting for it to be over.

The film is very doco-like. There was the annoying shaking hand-held when everything else was still, the straight-forward shots and the complete lack of drama. Perhaps I am too used to Hollywood, but this film was flat all the way through. Without a climax of some sort, without excitement then why would the audience continue watching? I didn't want to. And the ending was very sudden and unexpected and offered no satisfactory conclusion.

I did like the lack of a real male presence. The two men that had even minor roles - the father and grandfather were depicted badly. The feminism and themes were dealt softly and subtly. The film shows the strength women have, the strength we have to have especially when abandoned by men and I really do think this film shows that women don't need men - even in a developing Korea.

I just think this film is too much like life itself. Or have I missed the point?
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4/10
Great performances by child actors undermined by lack of satisfactory denouement
Turfseer3 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Treeless Mountain is a simple tale from South Korea. It concerns two very young girls, Jin and Bin, who are placed in the care of their cynical aunt, after their mother can no longer care for them.

The film's focus is almost exclusively on the two children (marvelously played by two wonderful child actors, Hee-yeon Kim as Jin and Song-hee Kim as Bin). We follow Jin and Bin trying to fill their piggy bank with coins after their mother promises them she will return as soon as they've collected enough coins to fill the bank. With great self-sufficiency, they end up selling cooked grasshoppers to local kids for coins which they can place in the piggy bank. They even realize they can fill up the piggy bank much faster by exchanging larger coins for smaller one's. Often the girls find themselves hungry as their aunt doesn't want to lose extra money buying them food. Jin has been charged by her mother to look after her younger sister and she's the one who informs Bin that their mother is probably not coming back.

Finally, the girl's aunt no longer feels she can take care of the children, so she brings them to live with her elderly parents in the country. At the film's climax, the girls seem to be doing better since their grandmother appears to be a loving person who is truly interested in their welfare.

The film's strength lies in ably presenting an indelible portrait of childhood. There is, of course, a great touch of sadness, as we watch the children trying to cope after losing their mother. By the same token, the audience feels dissatisfied since we never learn why the mother abandoned the children (if she was destitute, how did that come about? Further, what were the problems she was having with her husband that led her to abandon the children?).

In addition to the failure to answer the mystery concerning the mother, there aren't enough dramatic moments in the plot to keep the story moving forward in a satisfactory manner. At some point, the children need to face a tangible, external crisis which must be resolved. The abandonment by the mother is merely the inciting incident--a series of deepening crises needed to happen but never were proffered.

Despite the touching performances of the two principals, Treeless Mountain is a bit too mundane to deserve accolades as true art house fare.
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1/10
I liked THE YEAR MY PARENTS WENT ON VACATION better.
thevisitor96711 April 2009
I saw TREELESS MOUNTAIN at the Hawaii International Film Festival because there was a nice writeup on it in the Honolulu Advertiser. Plus, it won 3 awards at film festivals. I'm not sure what all the acclaim was about because I thought TREELESS MOUNTAIN was horrible. It pretty much focuses on these two girls who were deserted by their mother. I'm not completely clear as to the reason why, but I read somewhere it was because she went off to look for her husband, who deserted her. So that makes a lot of sense. The husband deserts the wife, and the wife deserts her children. Obviously the wife didn't like her husband deserting her (otherwise why would she be looking for him), and didn't even consider that her children may not like being deserted by not only their father but their mother as well! As you can see, there wasn't much character development of the mother. So what we're left with are these two girls, who were first dumped off at their aunt's house. The aunt gets tired of babysitting them so she dumped them off at their grandparents' house. (I'm not sure how old the girls were--probably 7 and 9 years old.) Anyway, the film focuses on these two girls left to their own devices because I guess in Korea it's not a state law for children to go to school. Or, maybe this all happened during summer vacation. Again--this was not clear in the film. Back to these two girls. The camera focuses on them basically doing nothing. You see them manually washing their laundry, their grandmother helping them bake something in the kitchen, and other mundane stuff. I couldn't wait for this movie to be over. I would NOT recommend this movie. If you want to see a better film about a child that was deserted by his parents, I would highly recommend a Brazilian film called THE YEAR MY PARENTS WENT ON VACATION. At least there was more action in that movie.
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