The movie is very slow and very deliberate. The team of cinematographer, Dong-hyeon Baek, and director, Ki-duk Kim, use stunning imagery to tell their version of the circle of life.
The strength of the movie lies in its ability to tell a tale with imagery instead of dialog. If you're one to get antsy in a Kubrick film due to his long drawn out shots, you likely will hate this movie. However, if you have patience and appreciate a director who doesn't seem to think the movie masses suffer from ADD, you'll appreciate the time the director gives you to reflect on the beauty of the story's natural settings.
The actors perform well. The door that opens at the beginning of each one of the five seasons could be interpreted as a gate, linking the two worlds: our world and their world. To go-in and go-out in the idyllic space where the hermitage floats every people must go through this gate. In fact the film is a very simple allegory about the cyclic evolving life. The beginning and the final of the film encloses a cycle. Kim takes the characters in a more mature direction than many of the other tales, and does it with a better eye than most. The hut in which the central characters reside is located in the middle of a woody mountain lake. The lake and the surrounding woods play as important characters as the actors. The changes in the lake and the land through the seasons reflect the changes within the boy monk.
If you have the patience to meditate on the wondrous imagery of Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring, check it out. If you like foreign films but can't stand reading the subtitles, check it out (not a lot of dialog in this one).