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A daring portrayal of a dysfunctional family that is as controversial as the films of Lars von Trier. Initially banned, the latest tour-de-force from Cannes-award winning director plays like a warped Greek tragedy. A teenager is caught between his adulterous father and psychotic mother. An extreme act of revenge forces father and son to deal with its bloody aftermath. This pitch-black study of lust and guilt, circles this destructive family whilst questioning one's basic sexual desires. An outstanding and unforgettable work from the director of SPRING, SUMMER, AUTUMN, WINTER…AND SPRING.
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I found this to be a very powerful film dealing with the nature of human sexuality and the major role that it plays in all humanity. Kim Ki-duk drives his points home with a sledge-hammer by playing with the concept of castration and what role sexual organs play in our identity and quest for pleasure, relationships, and personal satisfaction. There is a delightfully dark Oedipal edge to the story-line as karmic elements bend in upon the characters who are caught up in a perverse moebius-strip of destiny.
In the end, after much angst has been expended in trying to get everyone's sexual equilibrium back in order - the Buddha puts in a final appearance to remind us that 'earthly desires are the source of human suffering' and the sly smile of the youthful, re-neutered, protagonist shows us that he, at least, has gotten the message and found his enlightenment. I loved this film and, despite it's vaunted 'uncomfortable' sexual elements, would not hesitate to recommend its' viewing to anyone (ADULT, that is!).
I would note that the version I purchased (and reviewed) is a Euro Region 2 PAL edition from "Terracotta' that is 'rated' as 18+ - the stated run-time was 89 min.. In N. America there is apparently an NTSC 'rated' 90 min. version and an 'unrated' 103 min version. In the version I watched much of the 'castration' action was sorta 'alluded to' rather than graphically depicted (which was definitely cringe-worthy enuf!!) - but I can't say with certainty what the difference is between what the rated & unrated US versions provide, nor how the Euro release compares. Regardless - one 'gets the point'!.
This could never be 5 stars as it is far too twisted for that - but there are some scenes that will stay in your head for a very long time . There is no dialogue and it is not noticeably absent.
It is wild magical realism with a very odd core , and I will never look a a lump of pumice the same way again .
If you like JG Ballard's Crash , or the film therefrom , you will appreciate this . . If you found them abhorrent , you will this too.
There are at least 3 penectomies , cannibalism( not salami), murder, rape , incest, and masochism, and very dark humour throughout.
I liked it, but only its mother could love it..... ;)
It is watchable, just not very re-watchable.
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