TIFF Review: 'Moebius'

As a critic, there are these little checkboxes I go through for each film, so I can better describe the viewing experience for a potential audience. I thought it might be informative to run through that process real quickly, just so you can know where a film like "Moebius" is coming from, to help you decide if it is the right choice for you. Here goes.

Does this "Moebius" film have dialogue? No sirree, it does not. It has some screams, a silent whisper or two, a few eating noises, and a bit of score, but no words are spoken aloud, nor are any seen onscreen outside of a few interesting Google searches. To be clear, for ninety minutes, no words. Well how about castration? Does this movie have some of that? Yes, yes it does. According to my list, the film has two instances of castration shown, and another implied. Rape? Domestic violence? Sure, large amounts of both, though to be fair most of the domestic violence was comprised of only slaps, going in both gender directions, as opposed to an all-out free-for-all a la "True Romance". Finally, at any point in the film is one of the castrated gents stabbed in the shoulder, only to have this bring him pleasure, so he asks for the knife to be twisted deeper into his shoulder for optimal conditions? Well sure, that happens. It definitely does.

Now, as you can see, it's a pretty expansive checklist I'm using, why I don't even remember the last time I saw a film where someone is stabbed with a knife in the shoulder for sexual gratification. Jog my memory out there Internet, did "27 Dresses" have a scene like that? I forget. Regardless, "Moebius" does have that scene, so serious fans of shoulder stabbin' (as a metaphor for the sex act), all you completists out there, take note, I don't want you missing one of those on my watch.

As to the premise, well, it's sort of a "he-said, she-said" mix up, but really it's more of the "he-cheated, so she stabbed their son in the groin" variety. After that, things get truly weird, as newly castrated son has a tough time at school, and then visits dad's former mistress to start a new relationship. Dad routinely looks on Google for ways to help his son, it's clear he feels at least partially responsible for the castration thing, which eventually leads to some solid male bonding. But really, the events of "Moebius" are so distressing, so unlike anything we currently see in narrative filmmaking, that I'm tempted to say, "Well, if all of the above appealed to you, go crazy". A plot synopsis won't make any sense to anyone out there, and me admitting the film isn't as bad as it sounds won't help matters either. Not to say it's exactly good ( it's not, at all), but it is memorable, like an orange duck. There are worse films out there though, easily, so I don't mean to overly pick on "Moebius". The best word to describe it is strange, though it could have been halfway decent (yes, all the way up to halfway decent) if the third act hadn't succumbed to the crescendo of craziness that had been building for the first hour.

What's truly fascinating about the director here, Ki-duk Kim, is that he's made some really good movies, films I would recommend you see, no sarcasm intended. These prior efforts include films with dialogue, prior works "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … and Spring" and "3-Iron" are both very well done. Maybe go watch those instead.

Let's be realistic, no one is ever going to see this film unless they've lost a bet, and even then they'd probably just read this review to try and play it off as if they'd watched. It's an extremely odd little art-house movie, featuring a plot line that feels mostly allegorical, with bits of cartoonish, followed by grotesque, violence sprinkled in. No one but the heartiest of filmgoers should even attempt "Moebius", the words are all missing, the methods are largely obtuse, and the degree of difficulty in even stomaching the whole thing is profound. My advice would be to take a look at those checkboxes again, realize there's probably even weirder stuff I left out, and then highlight your own personal "pass" column.

SCORE: 2.8 / 10

Laremy wrote the book on film criticism and was slightly unnerved by this entire experience.