Moebius (2013)

Review #1,082

Director:  Kim Ki-duk
Cast:  Jo Jae-hyeon, Lee Eun-woo, Seo Young-ju
Plot:  A father driven into desire, a son coveting that of his father's, and the sorrowful maternity that hovers them into tragedy.

Genre:  Drama
Awards:  -
Runtime:  89min
Rating:  Not rated.

Kim Ki-duk’s latest is a movie about penises.  It’s fair to say that he has gone bonkers, but because he is Kim Ki-duk, we are inclined to read the film deeper than usual, to afford him with some sort of artistic respect. 

Moebius, as it is called, centers on the relationships among father, mother, son, and father’s mistress.  I wouldn’t call them relationships, because when a mother nonchalantly slices off her son’s genitals in a fit of jealousy because she couldn’t do so to her husband, it’s not relationships we are talking about, but a mad woman operating on the level of ultra-sadism.

So a penis is sliced off in the first ten minutes of the film.  And what transpires for most of Moebius is an attempt by Kim to comment on desire, lust and the need to be free of worldly concerns.  He shows us a Buddha head, lit by a torch on a dark street.  Perhaps enlightenment is our only salvation? 

But in another scene, a dagger is hidden underneath a different (or same) Buddha head.  Perhaps the road to enlightenment is to slice off one’s (metaphorical) penis?  That is a disturbing thought, but seemingly sane or even logical in Kim’s ridiculously perverse world. 

Half of the time you may be wondering if Kim is trying to achieve something transcendental through perversity, but the other half you will be left trying to ask: why am I watching this?  And yes, you may be compelled to complete it despite the disturbing content.  It can be compelling if you allow it to, if you see it as a (very) dark comedy, if you realize that the entire film has no dialogue. 

Moebius tells its story through visuals and acting.  It is a silent film in some way, but it is the silence of the characters despite the horrific nature of their circumstance that is off-putting.  Uncomfortable to watch and too phallocentric to be regarded as art, Kim’s Moebius takes all the psychoanalytic tropes (of castration, machosadism, Oedipus complex, scopophilia etc.) and fashions his own depraved understanding of pain and pleasure in our world. 

We may not come out of Moebius reasonably enlightened, but despite being the provocateur’s weakest work in many, many years, you just might be curious enough to give it a go.  But remember, curiosity killed the cat. 

Verdict:  Kim Ki-duk’s ridiculously perverse film will put off most viewers, and is one of his weakest works in many, many years.

GRADE: C- (5.5/10 or 2.5 stars)

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