The story was told straightforward with no specific surprises in the structure. The film lives off the beauty of the imagery and the acting of this wonderful little story. A lot of emotional engagement for me came through the extreme contrast of the very tender moments with the extremely brutal and violent scenes of the film (which I assume are pretty close to the real world). There are also some very haunting mystical moments, beautifully captured and displayed.
The main actress was definitively great to watch and came across so naturally that I was quite astounded to learn the she wasn't able to read during the time of shooting. She has learned to since, though.