Treeless Mountain tells the tale of lots of heartbreaking life situations ranging from the effects of adoption, divorce, foster care and all the estrangements that can occur between children and guardians. Every shot is framed with care and precision, captures subtleties of gesture and emotion that feel utterly authentic, or captures settings and light and other natural elements to give a haiku-like accent to the mood of surrounding scenes. The meaning is artfully implied by watching the girls as they react to the people and happenings around them. It is a profound experience of cinematic deduction–truly unique in its manner of delivering its message.
A similar theme was explored in the movie Nobody Knows which looked at abandonment of children but was incredibly depressing. In Treeless Mountain a mother drops off her children to live with her alcoholic sister in law. The sister in law who gets tired of them and is unable to provide and care, finally drops them off to live with their grandparents. What follows is something I don’t want to tell as I think it would ruin the overall impact one might experience from watching. It is a profound and convincing look at the impact of adult choices on the souls of children. More to be experienced than discussed, this movie will resonate with everyone.
What is important about this film is that it isn’t the experience of adults, as the role of adults is minimal. The experience is raw and directly from the young girls, what they see, what they hear, what they feel, and their determination to get back with their mother. What you see is images of children, making their way in an adult world. The film takes place in the congested streets of Seoul to the rural countryside.
Treeless Mountain is shot documentary style with a tight focus that looks at life from three feet off the ground and meets the tackles its 6 year old protagonist head on. The kids do a great job acting and the directing is masterfully done. The director allows for a quiet mood to wash over the scenes and the pacing never feels off. All in all, this is a great mood piece that will inflict some serious emotions within viewers and I am glad I watched it. It’s a side of the world I don’t see too often.