4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A tale of mother love that's not exactly family viewing,
This review is from: Pieta [DVD] (DVD)
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Kicking off with scenes of suicide, masturbation, mutilation and a desperate sex scene - and that's just the first ten minutes - Kim Ki-Duk's tale of obsessive mother love Pieta is not exactly family viewing. The impassive Jung Jin-Lee works as a collector for the Happy Private Loan Company, who are only too happy to cripple any defaulters to collect on their insurance policies, seemingly going out of their way to lend to those they know will default. He's so callous that when one defaulter kills himself (death complicating the insurance claim), he goes after her relative and takes her only possession, a pet rabbit. While the decaying Korean steel town that is his turf provides a steady trail of victims, he reluctantly finds himself starting to feel something for the first time in his life when the mother who abandoned him as a child (Min-Soo Jo) re-enters his life. At first refusing to believe her (to the point of even trying to rape her), as their relationship grows he realises that he now has something to lose if any of his victims ever seek revenge and gradually starts to change his ways...
Of course, you just know that this isn't a story that's going to end well, and not just for the rabbit, but the how and why isn't necessarily what you expect, Kim's restrained, unsensational direction of his sensational material and the strong but unshowy performances making its somewhat unlikely tale of redemption and damnation seem more credible than it should. There's an excellent sense of place in the dying town without hope and some memorable confrontations with his clients, including an old man with no intention to repay the loan and a young man cheerfully determined to become even more of a cripple than the loan shark wants so that he'll come out ahead on the deal and his yet-to-be-born son will have everything he doesn't. Ultimately it doesn't add up to much more than a low-key mood piece, but it's a surprisingly compelling one while you're watching it even if it may not linger that long in the memory after.
StudioCanal's DVD offers a solid widescreen transfer with a few slight edge enhancement issues in a few shots. The only extra is the international trailer.