Friday, December 12, 2014

Film Review: Moebius (2013)

Moebius (Review)
Kim Ki-duk/Jo Jae-hyun/2013
Where to Watch:
Netflix Instant
Amazon Prime

"...definitely thought-provoking and interesting."

Fed up with her husband's (Jo Jae-hyun) affair, a distraught wife (Lee Eun-woo) horribly disfigures their son (Seo Young-ju)...

Moebius is a simple film with many complex levels. On the surface, the narrative is very simple. In fact, the film refuses to use dialogue to convey the story – frankly, it doesn't need it. The story follows this dysfunctional (maybe an understatement) family after a horrendous incident: a mother severs her son's penis due to her husband's affair. Afterward, father and son try to repair their relationship and their “messy” business, and mom seemingly disappears. The son is tormented – for some particular reason, everyone wants to see this guy's junk – and so is the father, but they cope in a very unique way. Anyway, the film eventually hits a haunting climax (narrative climax, not the other kind of climax, if you know what I'm saying *insert your favorite winking emoji here*) and a devastating ending.

The narrative is obviously simple and disturbing. However, like all of Kim Ki-duk's films, there are many levels in this story. This is a film that you can watch for face value, but you'll probably hate it. The film moves at a slow pace and, like I said, it has no dialogue. The lack of dialogue didn't bother me – in fact, I got used to it after introduction – but it may come off as “artsy” to some. (I'm not a big fan of using the word artsy to critique film, but I have no better term right now.) So, without thinking about the film like you wouldn't for many blockbusters nowadays, you'll simply be experiencing a lot graphic violence and taboo sex.

However, if you watch and consume the film's symbolism and metaphors, you'll at least have something to think about. Personally, although I love the occasional blockbuster, I love thinking about films. In this case, though, I feel like some of its symbolism was lost in the simple narrative. It's not the lack of dialogue, 3-Iron works perfectly with minimal dialogue, it's more that the narrative fails to hook you. I still found a lot to think about, though. Themes of family and emasculation are very blatant, but there are also some other things to think about, like pain and pleasure. Like with most art-house films, you'll probably think of other themes and messages – that's perfectly fine, too, let me know what you thought.

The acting was good. If you don't like melodramatic, you won't like most of these performances. I thought the cast did a wonderful job in conveying emotion without dialogue, though, so that's quite the accomplishment. I especially enjoyed Lee Eun-woo's performance, she's especially impressive with her dual roles. The film looks great, I loved the vibrant lighting during some scenes. Like the lack of dialogue, there isn't much music in this film other than the intro and the ending – I liked those tracks, though. Kim Ki-duk's direction is great, as usual. I feel like the plot was too thin, though. I imagine if this film lacked its metaphors and symbolism, it probably would have been like watching nothing. Fortunately, the contemplative value makes up for the lack of plot at least somewhat.

Overall, I liked Moebius, I think it's a good film. The plot is on the thin side, but it's definitely thought-provoking and interesting. It's also very daring – I mean, very daring. At the same time, it's not a film for everyone. It has a lot of graphic violence (implied and otherwise), it has no dialogue whatsoever, and the themes are taboo. If you're a fan of Kim Ki-duk, you probably already know what to expect, so check it out. If you're not a fan of Kim Ki-duk or art-house film, I strongly recommend you start with something like Rough Cut, which is a masterful blend of art house and action.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Graphic violence and blood, including sexual violence, sex and graphic nudity.

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