Treeless Mountain (PG)

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The Independent Culture

Very little happens in this quiet Korean drama of separation and loss, but then very little needs to, because most of its meaning is played out in the face of its lead character, a seven-year-old schoolgirl named Jin.

When her mother decides to leave Seoul in search of her estranged husband, Jin (Hee Yeon Kim) and her younger sister, Bin (Song Hee Kim), are packed off to live with their aunt, a penny-pinching grouch who'd rather get drunk than feed them properly. Left to their own devices, the girls make a few coppers by selling roasted grasshoppers and save the money in a piggybank ready for their mother's return – an event that looks less likely by the day.

The writer-director So Yong Kim, drawing on events from her childhood, directs so unobtrusively you may forget the camera is there, but you won't forget its evocation of a child's yearning for a missed parent, nor the delicate changes of expression on Hee Yeon Kim's heartbreakingly serious face.