Children in trouble are definitely not new to the movies, but in Treeless Mountain, Korean-American filmmaker So Yong Kim illustrates a sense of childhood perceptions that's fresh and dead-on, sometimes heartbreakingly so.

Children in trouble are definitely not new to the movies, but in Treeless Mountain, Korean-American filmmaker So Yong Kim illustrates a sense of childhood perceptions that's fresh and dead-on, sometimes heartbreakingly so.

The film begins with six-year-old Jin (Hee-yeon Kim) in school, being taught to tell time, a poorly learned lesson that will resonate throughout the story.

She shares an apartment with her three-year-old sister Bin (Song-hee Kim) and their harried mother, but soon the girls are left with a shady, alcoholic aunt and a promise that their mother will return as soon as her daughters fill up a piggy bank with coins earned from good behavior.

Kim presents the entire tale from the viewpoint of the girls. They have only the vaguest sense of their circumstances and the viewer is similarly left in the dark about actual passage of time and the reasons for their family troubles.

But we have the perspective to be totally enchanted by the children (both untrained actors), to be devastated by the realization that their interpretation of their mother's words is too literal, and to be awed by their powerful ability to abide whatever comes their way.