A Little Monk | Chicago Reader

A Little Monk

The T'aebaek Mountains of South Korea provide a stately backdrop for this tale of a nine-year-old (Tae-jin Kim) who's been taken in by a Buddhist temple but longs to find his mother. Schooled by a severe temple master (Young-soo Oh), the boy is torn between the village children he encounters and the enlightenment promised him if he adheres to Buddhist precepts, while his fellow novice, a 20-year-old man (Min-kyo Kim), fights a similar battle against the temptations of the flesh. Cinematographer Chan-kyu Choi films in natural light to enhance the ornamental beauty of the temple, and writer-director Kyung-jung Joo employs a comparable narrative strategy in his gentle treatment of the boy's emotional turmoil. The tale reveals the folly—and ultimately the cruelty—of forcing wisdom on souls too young to make use of it. In Korean with subtitles. 102 min.

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