Wednesday, 9 October 2013

DVD review: Pieta


A divisive winner at last year’s Venice Film Festival, Pieta features an unpleasant protagonist who has unpleasantness revisited upon him, with onscreen emotions twisted and scarred with all the delicacy of a flame held to an open nerve. Be warned: with mutilation and humiliation throughout, the film’s pervasive cruelty makes for a challenging watch, as debt collector Gang-do (Jeong-jin) ensures defaulters square their balance sheets even if it literally costs them an arm and a leg.

When a woman (Min-soo) arrives at his door claiming to be the mother who abandoned him at birth, it triggers a bleak (but also rather silly) oedipal revenge drama that, while too neatly circular to be plausible, uses its third act to dissect themes of guilt and retribution in a more nuanced way than its most histrionic moments might imply. Violence and redemption (or just as often, the latter’s impossibility) are familiar territories for writer/director Kim Ki-duk, but rarely are they proffered so confrontationally, with semi-vérité camerawork purposefully underscoring the ugliness.

Out 14th October

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