Tuesday, July 9, 2013

FILM REVIEW: Pieta (2012) - Kim Ki-duk

Each year, there's always a standout film that is easily my favorite film from that year. Last year it was Moonrise Kingdom, the year before that it was Melancholia, before that it was Black Swan, and before that it was Slumdog Millionaire. Pieta has given Moonrise Kingdom a run for it's money on that list, but inevitably does not succeed to usurp it.

The South Korean revenge drama by seasoned director, Kim Ki-duk, is about Kang-do, a young man who takes pleasure in the brutality he inflicts on debtors to loan sharks. One day, a woman shows up at his front door, claiming to be the mother who abandoned him when he was a boy. 

Whenever I recommend films for people, or I say, "We need to watch this movie!" a lot of my friends are accustomed to saying "No," not because they don't want to watch a movie with me, but because I've more than likely selected a brutal, depressing film, and people don't always like to watch that.  One time a friend suggested I watch "House of Sand and Fog," and that I'd like it, because "it's depressing." I disliked that film a fair amount because it didn't feel genuine. It was sad, yeah, but that's not what makes a film great. I felt like the director was standing over my shoulder, whispering in my ear throughout the entire film, "Are you sad yet? ...How about now? ...And now?" It felt like the director was trying to make me sad, and not trying to tell a great story.

Pieta is well done enough for me to be okay with what it gets away with it, but it was riding dangerously close on that line. There is lots of great symbolism, and forehsadowing, and I can't tell whether it was the film's brutal grit, or the ending that got to me. I think it was the ending, because this film is kind of split into two halves, and it's the second half where I felt this film kind of derailed. There is a significant point where the film stops being a psychological drama and instead becomes the revenge flick that South Koreans are quite well known for. While this is an interesting turn of events, and it flows quite naturally in the context of the film, it feels a hair too predictable, and by that point, it felt the writer/director had painted himself into a corner, and so the ending ends up feeling a little disingenuous.

This far from ruins the film, though. It is an extremely well done piece of cinema, and if you can handle all of the grotesque and sexually explicit situations that this film presents, I recommend it highly.

No comments:

Post a Comment