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Originally published Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 10:05 PM

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‘Moebius’: a twisted, grotesque comedy

A movie review of “Moebius,” a Korean film that’s part grotesque comedy, part soft-core-fetish curiosity.


The New York Times

Movie Review

‘Moebius,’ with Cho Jae-hyun, Seo Young-ju, Lee Eun-woo. Written and directed by Kim Ki-duk. 91 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. In Korean, with English subtitles. Grand Illusion, through Thursday.

The New York Times does not provide star ratings with reviews.

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Part grotesque comedy, part soft-core-fetish curiosity, “Moebius” is, you hope, not seriously intended as much else.

South Korean director Kim Ki-duk throws down the gauntlet with his opening setup, in which a maddened mother slices off her son’s penis in revenge for her husband’s infidelity. (That’s after trying her spouse first.) Love does not quite conquer all afterward.

Raggedly shot with a handheld camera, this violent film presents Kim at his weakest, indulging in crass characterization and brute-force profundity. The characters remain nameless, and after Mother (Lee Eun-woo) conveniently disappears for the moment, Father (Cho Jae-hyun) makes amends by searching the Internet for solutions to his son’s (Seo Young-ju) plight.

Kim somehow maintains a deadpan amusement at the follies of carnal desire. He shows off a Lars von Trier-esque talent for ratcheting his puppets and their boldfaced psychosexual issues into motion, but with convenient gaps in emotional intelligence.

This isn’t quite the “sexual terrorism” that Kim, the director of “3-Iron” and “Pieta,” was accused of during his more popular days a decade ago. But the omission of spoken dialogue ultimately feels less like purist visual storytelling and more like a sadistic hobbling of his characters.



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