Review: ‘Pruning the Grapevine’

A handsomely crafted film about a trainee Catholic priest encountering dilemmas of religious and personal faith, "Pruning the Grapevine" is a quality outing for director Min Boung-hun. Quietly paced and thoughtful, its disciplined nature may hinder B.O., but this refined work should appeal to upscale auds searching for substantial drama. A robust fest life would seem a given.

A handsomely crafted film about a trainee Catholic priest encountering dilemmas of religious and personal faith, “Pruning the Grapevine” is a quality outing for director Min Boung-hun. Quietly paced and thoughtful, its disciplined nature may hinder B.O., but this refined work should appeal to upscale auds searching for substantial drama. A robust fest life would seem a given.

On the news that his mother has become ill, seminary student Paul (Seo Jang-won) takes leave from the institution and travels to be by her side.

Occupying his thoughts with greater presence than would appear seemly for his chosen path is Sua (Lee Min-jung), a museum attendant with whom he clearly shares a romantic past and an unsatisfactory break-up. Fleshing out the elusive nature of just what this history amounts to are snapshots of life among Paul’s superiors and fellow students.

Though perhaps a little too studied in a few spots, there is much enriching talk about deep concerns affecting hearts and souls.

Thesping is tops down the line, with Kye Joo-bong a standout as the gruff Father Moon. Pic is beautifully lensed on wintry landscapes and soundscape includes many spine-tingling choral arrangements.

Pruning the Grapevine

South Korea

Production

A Hammers Works Entertainment and Enter Power production. (International sales: Film Messenger, Seoul). Produced by Son Hyeon-wook. Directed by Min Boung-hun. Screenplay, Ryu Dong-sik, Min.

Crew

Camera (X color, format), Kim Hyung-ju; editors, Buong-hun, Park hyun-chul; music, Song Hyun-ju; production designer, Kim Hee-jae. Reviewed at Pusan Film Festival (Korean Cinema Today), Oct. 13, 2006. Running time: 115 MIN.

With

Seo Jang-won, Kye Joo-bong, Lee Min-jung (Korean dialogue)
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