Moebius ★★★★½

I hate myself for rating this so high. 

What a morbidly perverse, totally vile experience. Kim's daaaaaarkest film to date, hands down, which is a hell of a thing to say. Is he trying to outdick von Trier, Pasolini, Miike? Don't get me wrong, I don't love or even like this film at all. I'm simply taken in by the sheer force of its tragic power, which is sickening yes, but also profoundly sad. People get either pissed off or terribly sad watching Kim's films. I always find myself in the latter camp. By the time the credits rolled and the feeling of taking a shower set in, I was left pretty dumbfounded, pretty unhinged, and pretty much like the characters themselves —totally speechless. 

Late Kim Ki-duk hasn't lost his symbolic edge, he's merely mutated into a full-blown Freudian, Shakespearean, Old Testament lunatic. 

MOEBIUS is the kind of deranged tale that was told in ancient Greece around the campfire, a mythological fever dream that embodies Oedipal metaphysics, vulgar masculinity, and the sting of biblical tragedy. For as off-the-walls and ridiculous as the plot specifics are (which I won't dare spoil, they're too funny), MOEBIUS is actually an unforgettable cautionary tale about the rootlessness of infidelity. 

Stop. Cheating. Men. "Sex is a river of fire that must be cooled and banked by a hundred constraints if it is not to consume in chaos both the individual and the group," said Durant. The statement ironically makes MOEBIUS Kim's most conservative film to date, but you first have to see past all the macabre nastiness to realize the point. 

Behind all that transgressive imagery is the destructive nature of sexual obsession, passed from father, to mother, to son, and the cruel retribution of dismembering the human libido in the attempt to stop the pattern of violence. 

When you see the mother go bat-shit crazy, just remember that it's nothing more than emblematic rage pointed at a totally feckless father, and the son who needs to be prevented from following in his father's treasonous footsteps. Take out the son and you remove the phallic cycle of the son becoming his father. Take out the son and you emasculate the father and open a space for guilt to do its unkind, grueling, but potentially salvific work.

MOEBIUS is a return to classic KKD form, a formally daring and audacious work of art that not only uses provocation through grotesque imagery, but relies on the total and complete annihilation of the spoken word to evince some pretty heady emotions. It's theatrical to a tee, a ceremonious ballet of gestures, grunts, glances, and depraved visual subtext. The absence of words entails the absence of the divine. Language isn't spoken because these characters, being closer to animals than gods, have retreated to their passions, their anger, and their guilt, completely neutralizing the ability to communicate. Silence has always been a familiar trope for KKD, but here it feels pushed to new levels of audience participation. 

The fact that MOEBIUS is virtually a silent film is among its greatest strengths, because it forces us to read beneath the visuals themselves to ascertain the quivering, shame-stricken soul that hides beneath. I can't express how messed up this film is, and that feeling is matched only by how profoundly heart-broken I feel after getting to the end. 

I'm not recommending this to anyone out there, but if you take the journey, tread carefully. 

Know going in that what you visually see onscreen is hiding an ocean of subversive possibilities of what it actually means.

Ki-duk Ranked 

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