Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: Pieta (2012)

Pieta (Review)
Kim Ki-duk/Lee Jung-jin/2012
Where To Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...a masterpiece of Korean cinema."

A brutal debt-collector, Lee Kang-do (Lee Jung-jin), is shaken when he is followed by a woman (Jo Min-su) claiming to be his mother.

Pieta follows Kang-do. A debt-collector who makes cripples out of the people who fail to pay the ridiculously high interest rate. A strange woman begins to follow him and claims to be his mother. Slowly, his life begins to change as he reluctantly believes this woman – after some bizarre tests, of course. His character changes slowly as he develops a relationship with his new-found mother. The plot leads to a twisted climax and chilling ending – a film that will stay with you long after it's over.

Pieta is an art-house drama film. This, of course, means it's a film with multiple layers. This film, like many of Kim Ki-duk's films, works perfectly on the surface and beyond. First, the drama. The chilling drama in this film excels particularly due to the deep and complex characters. The drama is even more effective thanks to the chilling violence, disturbing and daring themes, and slow-burn execution. This isn't a thriller or horror film, but it really gets under your skin – and that's an amazing accomplishment for an art-house drama.

Now, looking beyond the surface, this is an incredibly thought-provoking film. The film deals with themes of violence, family, life, death, and commercialism. It crafts themes both subtly and blatantly. For example, due to some of the blatant dialogue, you may see yourself asking: what is money? On the other hand, some of its religious symbolism is a little more subtle. Fortunately, the film never preaches. In fact, it never delivers a clear-cut message. Instead, this film promotes discussion. So, what did you think about the themes and symbolism?

The film is anchored by excellent performances from Lee Jung-jin and Jo Min-su. The supporting cast is also strong. The acting can feel melodramatic at times, but it ultimately works in conveying some genuine emotions. The film looks fantastic – the cinematography captures the bleakness of the film very well. The music, albeit seldom used, also works excellently in crafting its bleak themes and sorrow tone – definitely a soundtrack that can get you into the thinking mood, as well. I've said it before and I'll probably say it for the rest of my life, writer and director Kim Ki-duk is brilliant. He has captured the perfect balance between mainstream and art-house – films that can be enjoyed on any level. His direction in this film is flawless as he captures an ominous atmosphere, tells an uncompromising and effective story, and pulls magnificent performances from his cast – again, all without compromise.

Overall, Pieta is a superb film. I first saw this film over a year ago (I own the Drafthouse Blu-ray) and I can say it's still as effective. It's a masterpiece of Korean cinema. Like most of Kim Ki-duk's films, this is definitely not a film for everyone. However, if you enjoy entering the taboo territory and you occasionally like to think about the films you watch, this is definitely for you. Don't miss this film.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some sexuality. (an attempted rape and some taboo sexual themes.)

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