A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
There is perhaps something in the river. It floats closer on the current. It is the body of a young woman. “Poetry” opens with this extended shot, so that our realization can slowly grow. Then we meet an old woman named Mija. She learns from her doctor that she is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. It is difficult to be sure what effect this news has. She continues with her life.
Mija (Yun Jung-hee) lives in a South Korean city, where she looks after her grandson, Jongwook (Lee Da-wit), and is a care-giver for an old man who is half-paralyzed by a stroke. She is a small, unremarkable woman, cheerfully dressed, quiet, getting things done. She signs up for an adult class in poetry writing at a local community center. The teacher is not a bad teacher, maybe even a good one, although he acts as if you can be taught to write poetry. All you can do is write it. Whether it is good or not isn't up to you.
The teacher encourages his students to look, really look, at things. He asks them if they have ever really looked at an apple. Mija goes home and really looks at an apple. It is such a perfect fruit. But then, every fruit is perfect.
Mija's grandson is a sullen lout, a layabout with worthless friends. She is told one day that he has been implicated with five other boys in the rape of a young woman. That was the young woman in the river.