Kim Ki-duk’s “Moebius” is a perverse look at one twisted family’s home life.
The poster for Moebius is pretty scandalous, I must say. Bathed in neon colors, the title appears in between a woman’s spread legs, while a young man to her right appears in a state of ecstasy, and an older man to her left appears ready for ecstasy. The critic pull quote reads, “A grotesquely rewarding experience.” The tagline reads, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” That line might be a bit of misleading marketing, but the critic quote has two words that are completely accurate: grotesquely rewarding.
In other words, you can pat yourself on the back afterwards, but do take a shower.
How about the following as a reward to receive: After having been castrated earlier in the film, a young man has had a successful penis transplant performed on him. His mother – the one who did the castrating – has returned home, causing some further distress in the home by showing affection towards her teenage child. The father, in a fit of rage at the sight of mother and son together, attempts to re-castrate, but in his fury, is stopped by child and wife, and all three sob heavily.
Suffice to say, this movie is pretty dense, and that’s not a joke (though you might laugh at the absurdity). The above sequence takes place after another uncomfortable sequence, which was after another one, and so on. But all of this discomfort is not without consequence. Throughout the film, characters search for pleasurable release by almost any means, including (but not limited to) rubbing rocks on their feet to create a pain induced sexual sensation. Immediately following this, the pain kicks in. This hurts, but was expected/anticipated/understood by everyone involved. Is this a form of pleasure, as well? Or is it just an unavoidable element?
Associated with everything in this film is pain. From family to romance to sex to religion, pain is inescapable. And lumped in with that is pleasure, thus creating an unusual cycle – moebius – that is as troubling as it is silly. Kinda sums up the human experience, huh?
Without a line of real dialogue spoken and hilarious gags here and there, Moebius contains in itself a blend of comedy that suggests a demented sense of humor is being inflicted upon us. And it’s not an easy mix, as the film is shot with an almost voyeuristic perspective, in grainy digital video, adding a level of near pornographic creepiness that is unmatched by some of the best horror flicks. But don’t feel bad about chuckling. We may not be in on the funny at first, but I think we are by the time multiple castrations have occurred. Multiple. Castrations. I bet you’re giggling right now.
It’s pretty sick, shocking to the core even. It works as both a twisted satire on teenage sexual discovery and a twisted family drama — “twisted” being the dominant word. Beyond that, Moebius is actually a bit compelling in the desperation exhibited by the few characters on screen. Grotesquely rewarding it is.
★★★★ (out of 5)
“Moebius” plays at Zeitgeist starting Friday, August 8th.