Pieta (2013)


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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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

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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 (52) | Top Critics (20)

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…

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…

A mother's love for her child takes on brutal new meaning in Pieta, a film by Kim Ki-duk that's as hard to watch as it is to forget.

May 30, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

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).

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

'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.


Super Reviewer


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.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer


For those who might not know Pieta (pity in English) is the first Korean film to win the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival. Not only that, but Pieta is also South Korea submission for the 85Th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film category. It won plenty of other Awards to and will continue do so, but falls short of greatness. Pieta is about a loan shark who is forced to reconsider his violent lifestyle after the arrival of a mysterious woman claiming to be his long-lost mother. The film is a dark drama that will be unpleasant to watch. If you can't handle the sight of a grown man giving his mother flesh from his thigh to eat than this movie is not for you. It is consistently depressing, but the twisted mother-son relationship is compelling material. Though hard to watch times, the relationship carries many meaning and an interesting story of itself. The strained relationship is interesting to analyze and a good subject matter for a movie. Unfortunately the compelling material in the first halve of the film is ruined when the second halve becomes a film about revenge. The second halve is not as interesting because the mother and son do not interact as much. It becomes more depressing to view as we see the loan shark spiraling into depression. Though the impact of earlier events are missing. The ending of the film works in context, except loses meaning due to the second halve slowly declining in quality. Overall though, Pieta is an interesting and dark compelling drama that will in no doubt have you move. The acting from leading actors Lee Jung-jin and Jo Min-su is what makes the film strong. Lee Jung-jin cold approach to his character is the proper opposite for Jo Min-su whose more sympathetic. It also works well in reverse when the two actors character change throughout the course of the film. The film does include other actors, though mostly limited and effective when on screen. The visuals of the film are visceral with primarily dark color in nearly every shot. The heavy uses of dark blue in the film properly get across the bitterness and harsh reality of the world your viewing. Pieta is a compelling drama that falls short of greatness in the second halve short. It is Lee Jung-jin and Jo Min-su strong acting abilities that help the film even in the writing weakest of moments. Pieata is a harsh drama that one does not watch for entertainment, but if you give it a chance it will move you in a way few drama can.

Caesar Mendez
Caesar Mendez

Super Reviewer

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