Critics Consensus

It lacks subtlety and depth of character, but Pieta gets by with committed performances and a darkly ambitious, deceptively simple message.



Total Count: 53


Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,233
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Movie Info

Winner of the Golden Lion at the 2012 Venice Film Festival, Pieta is the acclaimed film from the celebrated and controversial Korean director Kim Ki-Duk (Bad Guy; Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... And Spring; 3-Iron). In this intense and haunting story, a loan shark living an isolated and lonely existence uses brutality to threaten and collect paybacks from desperate borrowers for his moneylender boss. He proficiently and mercilessly collects the debts without regard to the pain he causes his countless victims. One day, a mysterious woman appears in front of him claiming to be his long-lost mother. After coldly rejecting her at first, he gradually accepts her in his life and decides to quit his cruel job and seek a decent, redemptive life. However, he soon discovers a dark secret stemming from his past and realizes it may be too late to escape the horrific consequences already set in motion from his previous life. (c) Drafthouse Films


Lee Jungjin
as Loan Shark/Kang-do
Cho Min-soo
as Mysterious Woman/Mi-sun
Jo Min-soo
as Mysterious Woman/Mi-sun

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Critic Reviews for Pieta

All Critics (53) | Top Critics (21) | Fresh (38) | Rotten (15)

  • The film is far from a masterpiece ... but it bristles with Kim's trademark anger and agony.

    Sep 5, 2013 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Repellent on every level.

    Sep 5, 2013 | Rating: 1/5
  • There is a touch too much of the handheld camera, but in general one senses that the very quality of the way this film was made is one of its justifications for being and for its raw moments.

    Jun 17, 2013 | Full Review…
  • After being subjected to disturbing scenes of abject cruelty, rape and torture, my reactions shifted from squeamish revulsion to a reluctant yet growing appreciation for Kim's thematic ambition.

    Jun 13, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • The film's big reveal may not come as that much of a surprise; you may figure out where it's going well before the end. But it's the getting there that is, if not exactly fun, then certainly hypnotic.

    May 31, 2013 | Rating: 4/5
  • Fascination returns at the stirring climax, when the plot neatly twists and the film's apparently simple message turns deeper, and blacker.

    May 31, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Pieta

  • May 14, 2016
    Although the story is great, it's buried deep and it's not a comfortable film to watch.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Jun 04, 2014
    Not the first time I've said this, and it's very unlikely it'll be the last, but Korea is the land 1001 revenge thrillers. Thematically, while many of these films may be incredible, they're all pretty similar. They all follow the same plot points almost to a T. I don't mean that as a negative, it's just how the game is. But this film, takes that concept of revenge and absolutely flips it on its head. Not that I think this will revolutionize the genre, but it offered a very unique twist on a very crowded genre. And it tells a compelling, and incredibly dark, story in about as effective a manner as is humanly possible. Which is strange coming from Kim ki Duk. Not that his films are pretentious or anything, though some would argue, but I think he's the type of filmmaker that works best on an open-ended story. Where you can make your own conclusion as to what's happened, or there's a debate about the film's events and their veracity. This is very cut and dried film, it lays all its cards on the table, as it relates to the narrative. That's not a negative at all, it's the opposite, but it is strange coming from Kim Ki Duk. The film is quite dark, and ultimately, very tragic, so if you're easily depressed then this is certainly not the film for you. Its darkness is another positive, it's certainly very unflinching when it comes to telling its story. This may have SOME spoilers, so skip ahead. It's a mother's elaborate vengeance to teach the incredibly cruel loan shark, who drove her handicapped, at the loan shark's hands, son to suicide, the consequences of his actions as a loan shark while also giving him the mother he never had. Lee, the loan shark, believing that this woman is his real mother chooses to turn over a new leaf and to quit his job. It's simple to see that this is suggesting that if Lee's real mother had never abandoned him, he never would've gone down the path he did. It's also clear he has intimacy issues with women because of this abandonment. Basically Jang Mi-sun, the mother, is going to give Lee the mother he always wanted before taking her away from him, again, and crushing him emotionally, by committing suicide in front of him and making it look like a homicide. That's pretty heavy stuff right there and Lee's reaction to this is equally as heavy. This is one of those great films that you never care to watch again because it's a movie that completely takes it out of you. It's not Amour, or even Requiem for a Dream, but it's not a film I plan on watching again. I still think it's an excellent film though, great performances and a great story make this a must-see. It's not exactly the most subtle of films, but that doesn't lessen its impact at all.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Feb 19, 2014
    The overwhelming dramatic strength of this gut-wrenching tale of revenge makes us forgive its undeniable lack of subtlety (especially regarding its social and political ambitions) and its absurdly amateurish direction (the awful zooms and camera movements).
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 23, 2013
    Fascinating, blackly funny and often disturbing film from Kim Ki-Duk, with larger political and social themes at play in the background, and a parable-like narrative. The film often verges into overwrought melodrama and is not as successful or as satisfying as Ki-Duk's more subtle 3-Iron, but it's visually arresting, nicely acted and pleasingly bizarre in places.
    Daniel P Super Reviewer

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