FACT: I saw Treeless Mountain in the theater and cried my eyes out. Not the elegant shedding of a tear or two. No, it was the inappropriately loud, dirty cry, as I like to call it - dirty because it requires cleanup - several, several tissues and quite a bit of time for your eyes to de-puff.
Treeless Mountain (2008, dir. So Yong Kim) follows two young sisters, Jin and Bin, as they await their mother’s return from a trip to find their father. As they wait, the girls are passed from one caretaker to the next. They find ways to entertain each other, play games, fight with each other and observe the way adults around them behave. It’s in these observations where we see the elder sister, Jin, infer that her mother is not coming back to them.
Acting is such a strange thing. I don’t entirely know where the ability comes from, but you watch Jin evolve in front of you. You see her process her loss and her new reality through the actions she takes to care for her sister. In one of the most remarkable moments of Treeless Mountain — Jin, with the most subtle of gestures, makes the tiniest step through her loss. It becomes clear that these two sisters who have not been cared for, know what it is to care for someone. Bring on the dirty cry.