We are looking for fans of film and games who want to contribute reviews, lists, or features.
The films starts with a frightful suicide scene where a man in a wheelchair with a chain wrapped around his neck is seen with the sounds of a woman’s painful screams echoing in the background.
Unscrupulous loan shark Lee Kang-do’s (Lee Jung-jin) nefarious business methods are behind the tragedy because whomever someon wants to borrow money from him, they must take up an insurance policy, but when the repayment period is over and they can’t pay him back, he cripples them and then takes insurance money for himself. One day, Kang-do visits a small shop looking for his money. The store has only two employees, the wife and husband, and they don’t have the ability to repay. When Kang-do enters the store, the wife makes the husband go outside and then takes off her clothes, saying to Kang-do “You can do whatever you want to with my body but give us more time.” Kang-do wants nothing to do with it, and instead strikes her furiously with her own brassiere. We learn he hates women because his mother left him when he was a baby.
One day, a woman named Jang Mi-sun (Jo Min-su) visits Kang-do’s house and tells him, “Kang-do! Lee Kang-do! I am your mother. I am sorry to have left you.” She goes down on her knees in front of him, begging for forgiveness. Kang-do is shocked, and his eyes blaze with fury. “What the f*ck did you say?” he shouts at her. He can’t accept what she tells him and actually wants to hurts her. But she won’t leave. One day she goes into his house and cleans his room and washes dishes. This does nothing to turn him. Instead, he angrily kicks her out. However, Mi-sun never gives up. Every day she visits him and waits outside of his house. One night, Kang-do couldn’t sleep and finds he is thinking of her. Mi-sun slowly digs down into Kang-do’s mind. He finally calls to her and yells at her, shouting, “I lived 30 years without a mom, how can you suddenly show up now?” She just listens to him in silence. And then suddenly, she sings a soft lullaby like he’s a baby. While he’s listening to her song, something happens in his mind. He seemed spellbound by her warmth, and at last, opens the door. There is Mi-sun.
She goes into his house, but he comes back to Earth again, and still upset, bullies her, demanding she show proof she is his mother. In an act of disturbing behavior, he goes to the bathroom and slices out a small piece of his flesh and tells her to eat it. She fights back her disgust but she finally eats it. After the incident, he no longer pushes her away. Actually, he hankers for real familial love and soon breaks down in front of his mother’s affection and rapidly sinks into her like a child in her arms. When eating breakfast, he asks her, “What did you do before we met? Do you have a husband or any other children?” She can’t take the rawness and weeps.
They spend time like a real family, such as eating, shopping together and taking care of each other. But one day a man, who has a grudge with Kang-do because he was rendered disabled by Kang-do in front of his own mother, puts a knife to Mi-sun’s neck and tells Kang-do, “You have to feel what it feels like to have your family hurt.” Kang-do explodes with fear and screams at him to not hurt his mother. It’s a real admission that he believes she is real. Kang-do eventually saves her and after it ends, he becomes obsessed with her. He always tells her before he goes out for work, “Don’t open the door to anyone.” One afternoon, his phone rings and Mi-sun’s voice pleads, “Please help me! Save me!” He thinks she is being kidnapped.
Directed by Kim Ki-duk, he devotes a lot of attention to the location of the film, setting much of it in Kang-do’s work place and house. Also, through this, we can discover more about the mysterious woman Mi-sun. We watch him as he moves about old stores with sheet metal, molds, cutting pliers, etc. These help define Kang-do’s role. The title, Pieta, means, “Do someone an act of charity” in Italian. There is hidden deep sadness in the title. This film is the 18th film for the director and earned the Golden Lion award at the 69th Venice International Film Festival.
The ending gives me great emotion, it shows a mother’s love has no bounds but I should stop because I don’t want to spoil this tragic story. When I watch the film, I become so curious about the actress, Jo Min-su, and her moving performance revealing her character’s secret story. I can’t read exactly what her face is telling us but I can feel there is something there. Her facial expressions are really so good. Also, the main actor, Lee Jung-jin, commits such brutal atrocities without any hesitation but his insides are still in infancy. What a character. Jung-jin’s gives this internalization tremendous power. When you watch this film, you should ask yourself, “Why did she come back?”, “What is their history?”, ” Why does she remain so sad?” Often the Korean film style is ambiguous, where the viewer can learn through characters emotions and visual cues. This movie is great an example of this style.