dir. Kim Ki-duk, South Korea 2012, 104 min.

Golden Lion of Venice Film Festival 2012

For "Pieta," a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival 2012 is much more than just an award for the particular title and artist; it is the first award of this magnitude that a South Korean film has ever received. If it means more, it also weights twice as much. Additionally, "Pieta" is particularly important to the director himself; it is the first feature film he directed after a few years long break and his depression, the story of which Kim Ki-duk told (actually, he sang it out) in the "Arirang."

"Pieta" is saturated with religious symbolism, even the title itself makes us search for such a context in the film’s story. However, it all starts with the profane: the gangster cinema. Lee Kang-do (Lee Jung-jin) works for the mafia; he collects debts from insolvent small craftsmen who tremble with fear in their tiny shops. And there is a lot to fear because Kang-to hurts the debtors, cuts their arms or legs of using the tools available in their shops. All that to take the money they will collect from their insurance companies. He feels neither mercy nor remorse, at least until the day, when a petite woman crosses his path and claims to be his mother. The boy is trying to get rid of her, humiliates her, throws her away, but in response Jang Mi-sun (Jo Min-su) would not budge and only knits him a sweater. According to Kim Ki-duk, maternal love is not sentimental at all. On the contrary, it is a drop of water penetrating the rock; it is also a type of violence, a particularly refined kind. It becomes the most dangerous weapon by making others vulnerable; love is something that one can give, but it can also be deprived. You can live without a hand, but without love?

Małgorzata Sadowska