In a remote valley in South Korea, the elderly Mr. and Mrs. Lee live on a farm with their rickety ox. For forty years, the animal has served them faithfully, hauling untold firewood loads and dragging the plow through fertile fields. The documentary Old Partner playfully and poetically tells the story of the ineffable bond between the Lees and this creature as their lives wind down in tandem. The camera lingers intimately on the ox's kind eyes and creaky bones, allowing us to sense the depth of this sentient being's loyalty as he carts Mr. Lee to town. In return, Mr. Lee collects special fodder by hand and refuses to spray insecticides for fear of poisoning his beloved beast. A charming, heartbreaking, existential buddy tale, Old Partner conveys the almost mystical inextricability of humans and nature.
(Korean with English subtitles)
"Poetic...Universally appealing. Not since Robert Bresson's Balthazar has a beast of burden been so tenderly portrayed on film." —Peter Debruge, Variety
“Unbelievably moving. Lee takes an odd premise and turns it into a remarkable tale of loyalty and attachment to the natural world.” —Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine