Sunday, 8 December 2013
Pietà, Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-Duk’s 18th work – something, for reasons unknown, displayed prominently in the beginning – is a dark, edgy, disturbing and brilliant psychological thriller with enough violence, bleak nihilism, and discomfiting sexual content to keep the average viewers away. Yet, for all its extreme thematic explorations and content, there exists a strongly palpable poetic beauty and poignancy in the tale’s social context, to provide a rewarding experience to those willing to take the plunge. Lee Kang-do (Lee Jung-jin), an asocial loan shark without a shred of humanity and conscience, goes about, with clinical efficiency, brutally impairing destitute mechanics in Seoul’s cramped industrial belt who have defaulted on their loans, in order to collect insurance money for his boss. His cold, ruthless and regimented nature, however, goes for a toss when a woman (Jo Min-soo) mysteriously appears in his life claiming to be his long-lost mother. He initially reacts to her barging presence with apathy, and then with customary viciousness that is indicative of his deep-set insecurity and anger; however, eventually, his defense starts crumpling as he slowly becomes emotionally dependent on her, and this starts bringing about a change in his nature too as the human being, hitherto hidden under his beastly veneer, starts breaking free. But Kim was clearly not willing to let us go with a redemptive ending, as, unbeknownst to Lee, the lady has ulterior agendas, which leads the film to its harsh and tragic finale – the final sequence is sure to leave most viewers shaken. Jung-jin was very good, only to be outdone by Min-soo’s bravura turn, while the brooding cinematography perfectly captured the film’s mood and atmosphere.
Director: Kim Ki-Duk
Genre: Drama/Crime Drama/Psychological Drama
Country: South Korea