Critic Consensus: It lacks subtlety and depth of character, but Pieta gets by with committed performances and a darkly ambitious, deceptively simple message.
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Critic Reviews for Pieta
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.
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.
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.
Fascination returns at the stirring climax, when the plot neatly twists and the film's apparently simple message turns deeper, and blacker.
A vicious, torture-happy debt collector with some severe sexual peccadilloes is, erm, softened by the return of his estranged mother in Kim Ki-duk's deeply unsettling Pieta.
Audience Reviews for Pieta
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).
'Pieta'. A delightfully twisted revenge tale and economic parable! A mother always lends a helping hand to her son.
The camera work turning inexplicably amateurish at crucial moments took slightly away from the film.
In "Pieta," Gang-Do(Jeong-jin Lee) is a thug who collects for a loan shark. When the customers cannot pay the loan back in a month with 1000% interest, he cripples them, using the money from the disability settlement to pay off the debt. One day in walks Mi-Son(Min-soo Jo) into his life, cleaning the mess in his apartment before claiming to be his long lost mother. Confused and angry, he rapes her.
First, a little bit of business. Except for the rape, all of the graphic violence happens offscreen. So, anybody looking for dismememberment and other bits of gruesomeness should look elsewhere. Because what Kim Ki-duk is interested in to his credit is the lingering after effect of that violence on those that now have to care for the victims. Even before that, most of the people preyed on seemed be the most vulnerable from the lower classes. Gang-Do does not take any enjoyment out of this or anything else in his life, for that matter, as he has never had anybody care for him and now leads the most basic of existences. All of which sets up an intriguing and dark nurture versus nature debate that gets resolved in the movie's own twisted sort of way.
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