Friday, September 5, 2014

피에타 (Pieta) (2012)

Director: Kim Ki-duk
Writer:    Kim Ki-duk
Cast:       Min-soo Jo, Jung-Jin Lee, Ki-Hong Woo
Language: Korean

A loan shark is forced to reconsider his violent lifestyle after the arrival of a mysterious woman claiming to be his lost mother.

The title refers to the Italian Pieta (Pity) referring to depictions of the Virgin Mary cradling the corpse of Jesus. When I saw the film I was not aware about the poster showing something similar and didn't get the Christian references while watching the film apart from a big cross that is shown in some of the initial scenes. South Korea has a growing Christian population and the pope also visited the country recently. When you have this overt christian symbology coupled with showing an incestual kind of relationship, you will definitely attract controversy which it did. But to be honest this film is quite tame compared to most other Kim Ki-duk films when you compare the level of violence and shock factor. The story is also much more straight forward and quite cliched when you look at it in the macro sense.

I was reminded of Oldboy when I watched it and revenge is a theme that is quite specialized by Korean films. It is kind of a reverse take on Oldboy's plot-line with almost everything being the complete opposite. I was not that impressed by the film till about the last 20 minutes since it just seemed to be a very ordinary film with nothing hidden from the audience even as the main protagonist is kept in the dark.  It is just another tale of revenge and redemption with the industrialization and consumerism of South Korea as the backdrop for general unhappiness. The last twenty minutes of the film is quite affecting with us genuinely rooting for the protagonist which is quite an achievement for the director. Kim Ki-duk specializes in these kind of films where despite the violence and questionable deeds done by the characters we care deeply for them. 

I don't consider many of the Kim Ki-duk films in the great category but he is consistent when it comes to making odd little films that are very watchable even though you are forced to look away  by the things that he depicts on screen. This is a good entry point for those who haven't seen any of his films because the story is quite mainstream but still it carries many of the Kim ki-duk's trademarks. For those who are familiar with his work it is not that impressive just because of the above stated reason. It won the Golden Lion at Venice and it was the first Korean film to win top prize at one of the three major international film festivals-Venice, Cannes and Berlin.

Rating: 3/5