It's a dark and brutal morality tale of guilt and redemption, the movie "PIETA" tells a story of a debt collector Kang-do(Lee Jeong-jin) works as a debt collector for some loan shark, and he is someone you don't want to mess with especially if you happen to borrow the money from his boss. Even if his poor debtors really have no money to pay back, he gets the money back by any ruthless means necessary. These unfortunate debtors usually work at the metal shops located on the narrow alleys of Seoul, so they are forced to get their hands or feet injured by their machines for paying him back through the insurance money they will acquire. During one comic but cringe-inducing moment, one debtor nervously asks him to cut both of his hands instead of only one hand because he needs more money to pay his debts and support his baby to be born.
Kang-do's life is as barren as his debtors'. While his home looks a little more comfortable, he has lived alone in his apartment. He cooks for himself, and he usually brings live animals to his home for his dinner. To represent his beastly nature, he prefers to buy a live chicken and then butcher it instead of just purchasing a dead one. On one day, his life is disrupted by the sudden appearance of one mysterious woman(Cho Min-soo), who claims to be his mother and apologizes to him for abandoning him not so long after he was born. Resentful toward his mother he does not remember, he does not believe any of her words and brusquely rejects her, but she keeps coming to him. She slowly insinuates herself into his daily life while behaving like a mother who tries to compensate for her unforgivable fault in the past. Though he harshly treats her, she sticks to him while doing what mothers usually do for their dear sons. She cooks for him, and she says genially to this detestable man who has probably never experienced love or kindness for a long time.
There is quite a disturbing scene where Kang-do cruelly attempts to violate her with his own twisted logic, and you may wonder how much she can tolerate him, if she is indeed who she seems to be. Induced by her love without condition, Kang-do slowly reveals a vulnerable child with lots of hurts inside him; he eventually finds himself depending on her care, and they momentarily have a nice time together as a mother and her son.The tension in the drama largely depends on the simple but fearless performance by Cho Min-soo, who deftly maintains the elusive side of her character even at the most emotionally anguished moment. Their characters may look silly when they behave like a mother and her little son, but we come to accept the emotional bond forming between them.
And later scenes become very intense and heart touching. Overall I do not think it is one of his best films because of its several flaws, but I must say it is nice to see that this talented director is still capable of making a movie with conviction, power, and several interesting things to talk about.
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