Dark and violent mother-son story

Oedipus Complex: Loan shark Lee Kang Do and his supposed mother have a twisted relationship in the award-winning Pieta.

Pieta (M18)

Drama/104 minutes

Rating: 4/5

SINGAPORE - This award-winning film is not for the faint-hearted.

Directed by South Korean director Kim Ki Duk, Pieta - which is typically Christian art depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus - tells the story of Lee Kang Do (played by Lee Jung Jin), a brutal loan shark who threatens debtors in an impoverished industrial estate.

Before borrowing money, debtors have to sign an insurance for handicap coverage so Lee could injure them cruelly to file the claim.

His life gets turned upside down after he is confronted by a mysterious woman claiming to be his long-lost mother (played by Cho Min Su).

She follows him stubbornly for weeks, caring for him, and soon the man - who lives a lonely, isolated life - is moved by her motherly love.

The relationship between Lee and his supposed mother is disturbing and twisted, as the loan shark, who has blatant mummy issues, takes out his resentment on being abandoned by her.

There is a scene (spoiler alert!) where he rapes her angrily, uttering a disturbing sentence: "Did I really come out of here?

"Can I go back in then?" he sneers, clutching her crotch.

Other sickening scenes include him forcing her to eat flesh from his thigh to prove that she is willing to do so as his mother.

Scenes are jarring, super-violent and no holds barred in their stark depiction of the horrors of capitalism and what pure poverty can drive desperate people to do.

But the film, which scooped the Golden Lion award for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival last year, is seductive and fascinating, as it moves on to being a psychological study of the strange Oedipal relationship between the two leads.

Overall, Pieta is provocative, haunting and difficult to watch, and you'll want to keep your eyes closed for the most part. Strangely, though, you'll enjoy it.


Pieta will be screened exclusively on Saturday and Sunday at 4.30pm at Cathay Cineleisure. Tickets cost $12. Visit www.sfs.org.sg