DIRECTED BY KIM KI-DUK
SOUTH KOREA, 2012, 104 MIN
IN KOREAN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES
South Korea’s daring writer-director Kim (The Isle; Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring) delivers a visceral film that is sure to provoke controversy. While the title alludes to Michelangelo’s serene statue, this movie uses a gritty, poor former factory district as the setting where Kang-do, a loan shark’s enforcer (Lee Jung-jin) works its small alleyways and tin-roofed workshops. Showing no emotion, he routinely cripples marginalized workers to collect on insurance policies, robbing them of limbs and livelihood. The victims’ lives seem as meaningless as the detritus of the post-industrial machinery around them. A mysterious woman (Cho Min-soo) appears, claiming to be Kang-do’s mother. Unbelieving, he inflicts sadistic violence and humiliation upon her, until eventually believing her story. As Kang-do experiences new feelings, he begins seeing his victims and past actions differently, discovering guilt, remorse, and repentance. The acting is superb, the movie grim, and the plot has some unexpected twists. Ultimately, however, the story offers redemption and grace—or at least atonement. Winner of the ‘Golden Lion’ for Best Film at the 2012 Venice International Film Festival, PIETA is a gripping and provocative vision of extreme storytelling at its finest.