The Way Home (9/10)

 Copyright © 2003 by Tony Medley


2002 seems to be the year for familial relationship movies.  Sons and fathers; mothers and daughters; now, The Way Home brings us the story of a grandmother and her grandson.  Seven-year-old Sang-Woo (Yoo Seung-Ho) is left with Grandmother (Kim Eul-Boon) in an unbelievably remote Korean village by his mother who has to look for work in the city.

 Sang-Woo is unhappy, selfish and disrespectful of Grandmother, who is a mute, bent in half, living in an isolated village of only six buildings in the mountains.  She fends for herself, but cares lovingly for Sang-Woo despite his cruelty.  Part of the story of this movie is its reality. Kim is the real McCoy.  Not only had she never acted before, she had never seen a movie in her life!  She really lives in the house pictured in the film.

 Even though the language spoken in the movie is Korean, it might as well be viewed as a silent movie because much of the film is visual, as Grandmother canít speak.  The movie progresses and hurt upon hurt is hurled at Grandmother by the self-centered Sang-Woo.  She never reacts but continues her life and cares for him as best she can. 

 The Way Home is one of the most moving films Iíve ever seen.  Not in a million years would I have gone to see it had I not been reviewing it.  Much as I enjoy writing reviews, and itís rewarding, being exposed to this marvelous example of movie making is an equally wonderful reward. Written and directed by Lee Jeong-hyang, the story is somewhat autobiographical as Lee was writing with her grandmother in mind.

 To think that in this modern world people actually live like Grandmother is mind-boggling.  Just to be exposed to that is worth seeing the film.  But youíll get much more out of The Way Home than just viewing a foreign lifestyle.  Tears were streaming down my face as this one ended.  The Way Home is a compelling story that holds your interest despite virtually no dialogue.  If you see it, you wonít soon forget it.

 The End