Home  Contact Phil


Phil Mellows is a freelance journalist living in Brighton




Directed by Ki-duk Kim (2012)

Revenge is a dish best served with love and care. Like the Masterchef contestants who insist on putting their 'selves' into their creations, the truly vengeful serve their own hearts on a plate to lure their prey. Death would be too easy on them. This irresistible poison coils and chokes the perpetrator/victim's very soul.

Gang Do (Jung-Jin Lee) is a sadistic debt-collector who prowls the slum workshops of a Korean city crippling those who can't pay the astronomical interest rates, ideally in front of their mothers, so he can pick up the insurance money. Simply killing them would complicate the transaction, he explains. Well, it's a business model of sorts.

Then a mysterious woman (Min-soo Jo) turns up at his flat, forces her way in and does the washing-up. It can only be his mum. Indeed, her name is, a little too pointedly, Mi-Son, and she apologises for abandoning him as a baby.

Gang-do is suspicious, but Mi-Son is determined to prove her love and devotion. This involves, beyond the washing-up, mopping up the bloody chicken offal her boy has carelessly discarded on the bathroom floor, fetching him a live eel for breakfast, defending him against the understandably angry people he's disabled and being raped by him.

Volunteering a hand-job seems to go a bit too far for her, though, as after that she cools somewhat and hops off. Gang-do, by now convinced she really is his mother, and besotted in this somewhat incestuous affair, is distraught.

Inspired by motherly love, he's even started to show a little pity for his debtors. The film's title, Pieta, is Italian for pity and also refers to Renaissance sculptures that depict the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Christ. Mi-Son's beautiful, painterly, face seems hang above the sordid slum as the possibility of something better, and her sacrifices have succeeded in drawing some humanity from the brutal boy.

But that's only the start of it, the prep for a devilishly delicious recipe whose warped design consummates the exquisite satisfaction of, not of the diner, but the bitterly vengeful chef.

October 27, 2013

Back to Reviews


Writing... Journalism... Research... Awards Judging... Pub Business Advice... Pub Crawls
Contact Phil