Pieta

104 minutes 2013

After the relatively mellow Airirang and Amen (both 2011), Korean shock auteur Kim Ki-duk returns to form with this brutal, unyielding exploitation film. Complicated and deliberately repulsive, it tells the story of a sadistic loan shark, living in an industrial slum, whose world is turned upside down when a strange woman arrives claiming to be his long-lost mother. This is brilliant in some stretches and deplorable in others, with the director's usual extreme violence and depraved sexuality. The unhinged aggression decelerates after the first hour or so, and the film becomes a melancholic survey of solitude, redemption, and family responsibility, similar to Kim's masterful Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter . . . and Spring (2003). Unfortunately he soon abandons this idea and returns to the banal psychosexuality of the opening scenes. In Korean with subtitles.

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