As a massive fan of Korean director Kim Ki-duk - I've never seen a film of his I haven't loved - I was eager to see what delights his new film PIETA had in store for the viewer. In some ways it's similar to a lot of his previous filmography, like BAD GUY, in which the protagonist is also the antagonist, and also similar to other Korean films I've seen like BREATHLESS.
The main character is a ruthless loan shark who makes a living from crippling those who owe him money; he gets the money back from their insurance claims. The glacial Lee Jeong-jin gives an icy turn as a truly horrible creation, but inevitably he thaws a little once you get to know him, and once the plot kicks in. This is a revenge story, but one done in a way that's both subtle and convoluted; it's a film that rewards close attention, else you won't have a clue what's going on.
Jo Min-soo bags the film's most interesting role of the long-lost mother who turns up seeking reconciliation. It's a difficult, unsympathetic part to play, and there are one or two sexual situations which go way beyond the realms of bad taste into some of the most disgusting things I've ever seen. As ever, though PIETA isn't really an explicit film, despite the sheer quantity of violent incidents that happen during the running time, and as a story it gets more and more engrossing as it goes on. The end is particularly profound, and the lush cinematography on a tiny budget makes this a beautiful film to watch, despite the depravity.
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