Pieta DVD review

Pieta DVD Review | Front Row ReviewsKim Ki-duk is one of the most prolific and significant directors in contemporary Korean cinema. Some particularly notable films of his include Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter…and Spring, The Isle and 3-Iron. His latest film shares the minimalism of these but strays away from their tranquility to arrive at something more overtly brutal. His films are known for having violent elements to them but Pieta takes this much further.

The story follows Gang-do, a loan shark whose life is changed when a mysterious woman appears and claims to be his mother. The film is unmistakably and often uncomfortably Freudian in its set-up. This was one of the main controversies surrounding its festival release. It is also an exploration of numerous themes including self-sacrifice, rebirth, and clear religious symbolism (as the title suggests). It is an achievement on a symbolic level as are the majority of Kim Ki-duk’s films. Pieta does, however, lack real character development and has some tonal issues.

Some of the scenes are unflinchingly brutal despite lacking the gore of many other Korean films. This adds to a sense of coldness present from the beginning although this is overcome to some extent by a beautiful final sequence. This is also the only scene to showcase the transcendent vision so key to Kim Ki-duk’s other work. His films are all great study pieces that have received deserved praise from film scholars but as pieces of entertainment these films can sometimes be challenging and difficult to enjoy on a narrative level.

The simplicity of Pieta’s narrative and its under-developed characters may be problematic but the film’s symbolic status and its director’s artistic ability are enough to make it an enjoyable and interesting watch. It is particularly worth seeing for fans of contemporary Korean cinema and would make a great companion piece with Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Mother’.

The DVD release is lacking any special features, apart from a trailer, which is a shame. Pieta is now available in the UK.

About The Author

Alice is a student who hopes to one day be a full-time journalist. Films have been a big part of her life; especially those from the horror genre. While attending her school's film club she won the national review of the week twice. She is currently studying Film at the University and Warwick. Her favourite directors include David Lynch, Wong Kar-wai and Stanley Kubrick.

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