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.