Directed by Kim Ki-duk. Starring Lee Jung-jin, Jo Min-su Light House Cinema, 6.10pm *****
In art, the term pietà can mean any representation of the Virgin Mary cradling the corpse of Jesus. The reliably controversial Korean auteur Kim Ki-duk has reinvigorated the entire concept with this delirious Golden Lion-winning inversion. In Kim’s Pietà the protagonist Kang-do is frequently compared to the devil – and with good reason: a ruthless debt collector who collects insurance for disabilities (which he inflicts), he seems incapable of any humanity, let alone mercy, until the day a strange woman, claiming to be his long-lost mother, starts following him around. Disturbing Oedipal acts soon follow until slowly but surely mother softens him. We watch him and mother skipping gaily through town with balloon animals. He quits his work for the loan shark. He can’t wait to try on the jumper mother is knitting for him. But all, alas, is not as it seems.
Shot in gaudy, visceral tones against post-industrial streets and slums, Pietà is catholic art. As ever, Kim plumbs terrifying depths with depictions of rape, murder and inventive sadism. Still, the director’s 18th feature film remains beautiful, seductive, accessible and unexpectedly touching.