Directed by Kim Ki-Duk, starring Oh Young-Soo, Kim Ki-Duk, Kim Young-Min, Seo Jae-Kyung, Kim Jong-Ho and Ha Yeo Jin.
Best known for controversial films 'The Isle' and 'Bad Guy', Korean director Kim Ki-Duk opts for a more soothing experience with 'Spring, Summer...'. While the length of the title could serve as an advance warning to non-arthouse devotees, this is a film that deserves as wide an audience as possible and rewards viewers for their trust.
Split into five chapters, the film covers the gamut of human experience. It begins with an elderly monk (Oh) who lives in an idyllic river hermitage with a young boy pupil (Kim). On one mischievous day, the boy ties rocks to the back of a fish, frog and snake, and later learns a valuable lesson about the pain of suffering.
In 'Summer' the young pupil is now a teenager (Seo), whose prayers are disrupted by the arrival of an ill young woman (Ha). Gradually the two become closer and embark on an affair in the surrounds of the hermitage. With the monk confused and captivated by the power of love, it is up to his master to try and show him the true path.
'Autumn' finds the monk a 30-year-old man (Kim Young-Min), who returns to the hermitage after committing a serious crime in the outside world. Rudderless, his master tries to bring some meaning back into his former charge's life - and finds help in the unlikely form of two policemen who have come to arrest him.
The hermitage is deserted in 'Winter', until the now middle-aged monk (played by director Kim) arrives, determined to renew his faith. Honing himself to peak physical and spiritual condition, he finds joy once again entering his life when a young infant is abandoned and he must raise it.
There is hardly any dialogue in 'Spring, Summer...', but the universality of the stories and emotions mean it would've worked just as well as a silent movie. Using dreamy visuals, each story manages to be compact yet still unfold at a gentle pace. It's a film where even the use of a river as a metaphor for the passage of time never seems clichéd and leaves you with wider eyes and a lighter spirit.
Great chillout cinema.