Hot on the heels of news of that Kim Ki-duk’s Moebius has been effectively banned in Korea, I made it my mission to watch this film as Pieta was one of my favorite films thisyear. Sporting a unique and horrible injury, the son has to learn to live and adapt to his handicap. Which injury you ask? Well, he’s castrated, and by his distraught father, who offers him his own penis for a genital transplant. The operation is a wild success, with only one hitch: he is now sexually aroused by his mother.
All these weird and violent moments in the film are handled with conviction and seriousness as much as required. There is almost no dialogue in the film, and the characters are defined by their behaviors which in turn fueled by the dark, destructive animalistic emotions which probably reside somewhere deep inside our human nature. Many of Kim Ki-duk’s films strike us hard with their gut-wrenching violence, but there is also a spot of surprising tranquility amid extreme human behaviors, and “Moebius” is no exception. Around the middle of the story, we encounter a mysterious figure repeatedly bowing to a Buddha figure in the shop as a part of his private ritual, and you may be surprised when the identity of this figure is eventually revealed. I don’t think I wholly understand its meaning or purpose, and it may be a part of the morbid black humor inside the story, but I must say it was nice to see a gentle human smile dawning upon the face after so many dark, ruthless moments of human violence.
The idea of the nuclear family is really pushed to the extreme here and with wince inducing scenes of sado-masochistic activities and sexual violence on display; you really must go into this film with an open mind. Sure it sounds gratuitous, but strangely the graphic explicitness is necessary and actually the whole premise of the film. Without the ridiculous and extreme, the film would be neither funny nor provocative which is what the deep rooted, if often confused, messages rely on. There is always a raw power behind its stoic approach to its volatile and sensational materials, and the result is something we cannot help but observe even when the characters cross over many moral and ethical lines during their no-hold-barred abnormal deviations.
Dialogue is unnecessary and its absence is quickly forgotten as the actions certainly speak louder than words in this instance. The acts are shocking, but little of the actual penis removal is seen, thankfully. Noises from the characters clearly depict the emotions and pain but the powerful lack of dialogue somehow makes the situation both multifaceted and farcical at the same time. The plot does become increasingly far-fetched and more ridiculous, but intentionally so. The sheer absurdity becomes absolutely hilarious, and in the screening I was in, a large majority of the audience were in fits of laughter. However, this is not a film to seek out merely for a laugh. Moebius is the blackest of black comedies and, whilst its messages do get confused and lost in this outrageous exhibition, the diverse issues and actions are not for the faint hearted. Viewer beware, but those with an iron stomach should watch. Recommended.