50mileninja’s review published on Letterboxd:
It is fair to say this film is a sublime and meditative experience where we sit above the unfolding tale of a deeply spiritual elderly Buddhist monk, living aboard a floating Buddhist temple.
Ritual and routine, freedom and peace.
The notion of desire leading to attachment leading to suffering resonates through the mind as the monk strikes at a small drum-like instrument sending out notes of detachment and tranquility.
Every frame really feels like it is lifted from a painting, with perfect composition and stillness. An elegant and visually stunning journey through the seasons follow the exploits of the younger child living with his elderly monk teacher. Living and learning. The boy gains understanding of the Buddhist mindset and the director helps illustrate such principles without overtly describing anything at all. Such is the amazing poetry and simplicity of the story telling set within the fabric of this movie.
The boy grows and the World turns - events unfold where life changing repercussions are chaptered brilliantly by the seasons. The lake on which the wooden temple floats comes to life as sun dappled waters, rise and fall, freeze and melt.
The story is both mesmerizing, intangible and allegorical. Often I felt left to decipher the visual nuances and I found myself thinking how natural the film feels, free from embellishment and unnecessary dialogue.
The elderly Korean Monk played by Oh Young Soo is unforgettable and Kim Ki Duk presents a classic of South Asian cinema.