Moebius Screen 12 articles

Moebius

2013

Moebius Poster
  • Moebius is about as well-constructed as anything Kim has done in the past decade, impressive mostly because of its flattened, theatrical mise-en-scene and restrained camerawork. At the heart of the film, as usual, is some excruciatingly literal-minded Oedipal claptrap... But what's most interesting about Moebius is precisely the point of its failure, the very limits of Kim's creative and intellectual capabilities.

  • What by rights should be primal and innovative study in human anthropology comes across as empty cinematic pirouetting, as this enforced silent treatment is given no real reason beyond a cheap stylistic contrivance.

  • Yes, Kim is effectively inverting a family melodrama, muting its dialogue and foregrounding its uncomfortable psychosexual underpinnings so that viewers can deduce the more conventional story underneath. Still, comparison... isn’t much of an endpoint, and the double casting of Lee doesn’t exactly help matters; when it comes down to it, this a movie where the only major female characters are intentionally interchangeable and exist only to castrate men.

  • It pains me to reveal, out of necessity, that not a single word is spoken in the film. Such is Kim's plotty momentum that the whole thing feels like an extreme joke made of pained silences, one that strips bare the subtext of overbearing parents. Streep herself couldn't improve on it.

  • I’m not sure what it means if I say it’s my favourite ever Kim work since I’m no great admirer of his usual all-for-effect nastiness, but this outrageous tale makes you wince (if you’re male) and laugh alternately.

  • An orgy of stabbing, chopping, raping and face-slapping that nonetheless achieves emotional power, esp. the dysfunctional-family final section with a tug-of-war over a knife and all three members weeping pitifully. Kim may be borderline-deranged and the film ultimately silly, but no-one else would've had the (ahem) balls to make it.

  • The film remains completely devoid of dialogue throughout (though there are plenty of grunts, moans, and shrieks to fill the silence). What might amount to gimmick in the hands of a less confident director instead becomes a kind of silent opera, in which the actors' precise facial emoting and a muscular editing rhythm create a melodrama by turns horrific and hilarious.

  • Prankster though he sometimes is, Kim is never merely kidding around. There’s a poignant undercurrent to all this extremity, which is weirdly admirable, even though it isn’t terribly effective. On some level, Kim genuinely means to explore the masochistic nature of desire and its destructive influence on the family; his approach isn’t as aggressively absurdist as J.G. Ballard’s conflation of sex with auto wrecks in Crash, perhaps, but he’s tilling roughly the same field.

  • That comic knack is disarming, and also a little disturbing, as Mr. Kim 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... But the withholding of speech ultimately feels less like purist visual storytelling and more like a sadistic hobbling of his characters.

  • In a wordless world, images and gestures mean more, and Kim takes great care with his: They're definitive and potent, almost like pantomime. Moebius isn't particularly graphic, but it's not for the faint of heart... Kim plucks away at certain visual notes--a knife's handle sticking out of a shoulder blade, a patch of skin being rubbed raw and bloody. You kind of wish he would stop, but you understand why he doesn't: In a movie about obsessions, his obsessiveness is a way of keeping order.

  • ...That [Kim's] latest feature will challenge and aggravate is never in doubt, but the laughs that flow uncomfortably are an overwhelming outcome... The dual casting of Lee as the perpetrator and victim is a stroke of genius in reaffirming the absurdity and interconnectivity of the plot, albeit one complemented by extensive – and clearly cultivated – discomfort.

  • I’m not sure whose bright idea it was to run Kim Ki-Duk’s mongrel latest, Moebius, on the festival’s opening day, as it could only overshadow everything subsequent to it for barefaced daring and roadkill fascination, notwithstanding its wholly plebeian setting, but wow – what a film! Not since Jan Švankmajer’s Spiklenci slasti (Conspirators of Pleasure, 1996) has a dialogue-free film been so startling, nor so drolly yet fearlessly perverse and forthrightly Freudian!

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