Moebius ★★★★½

TIFF 2013 – film#12

Reason for Pick – Director Kim Ki-duk – 3 Iron

"Earlier this year, Moebius was banned by the Korean Media Ratings Board for failing two of its seven decency tests, which makes you wonder, among other things, what on earth the five it passed could be."

Robbie Collin, reviewer,

That about sums it up. Infidelity, castration, gang-rape, auto-erotic self mutilation, and incest. Oh, and comedy darker than a black hole. If the former doesn’t send you running for the hills, then you will be rewarded with the latter, incredible insights into male sexual dynamics, and the sufferings that dicks can cause. Of the Kim films I’ve seen, Moebius is amongst his best and most powerful. It took an entire evening of chewing on it and discussing it to come to this conclusion. You can’t help but leave the theatre in anything but a state of total shock.

One could argue, rather convincingly, that the first act is simply torture-porn. I’m sure there are plenty of indentations in the arm rests of the Scotia Plaza 1 theatre from people clenching their seats. After you’re subjected to more than most could endure, Kim turns the film on a dime in the second act to become one of the most uncomfortably funny films I’ve ever seen. Moebius makes Dogtooth look like Disney in this department.

If you survived Kim’s The Isle, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Besides amping up the ultra-violence, Kim goes one step further in making Moebius completely wordless. This technique works brilliantly, as words would quickly ground the surreal, unbelievable, tone of the film. Another, albeit lesser, shocker I only discovered after reading is that both female leads, Mother and Mistress, are played by the same actress, Lee Eun-woo. Not only is the transformation amazing, it also makes yet another statement in the already allusion rich story. Cho Jae-hyun as the father, and Seo Young-ju as the son, also deliver incredible, mute, performances.

To say this film isn't for everyone goes beyond understatement. While no one left our screening, I read that several bolted at the Venice Film Festival, one leaving a trail of un-wellness as they fled.

You have been warned.

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