Pieta is an unnerving film. It makes you cringe with disgust, it disarms you with moments of tenderness, and it frequently veers into the unexpected. Directed by Kim Ki-Duk (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… And Spring, 3-Iron), the film takes place in the slum of Cheonggyecheon, an indigent part of Seoul that used to be a thriving factory town, but is now slowly being torn down in favor of erecting financial buildings. When the few surviving factory workers owe money, they fall victim to a vicious loan shark who himself finds his own challenges in the form of his long-lost mother. While Pieta might take some time to start engaging its audience, it succeeds in creating a palpable sense of unease throughout and running the emotional gamut with its two leads. The loan shark is Gang-do (Lee Jung-jin), a seemingly emotionless man who brutally goes from debtor to debtor and injures them so that he can get repaid through their insurance money. These injuries range from amputations to leg breaking and usually take place with the factory workers’ own equipment. He cripples the men in front of their wives and mothers, causing additional emotional duress. Given the fact that the factory workers earn their livelihood from being physically capable to use their machinery, Gang-do’s handiwork also forces the now-cripples to lose everything and not be able to provide for their families.