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The relationship is so unresolved that it isn’t even incestuous.

This is an excerpt from the film review (Mother: Joon-ho Bong). Because I know the movie whose plot is based on the strong relationship between the mother and the son I have tendency to understand the above sentence in this way: The relationship is so strong that can indictae incest. But the word-for-word translation says the oposite which does not make me sense. Can you please tell me the precise meaning of the above sentence?

EDIT:

Here is a longer excerpt from the film review:

Won barges through the film, conveying the confusion of a stunted child desperate to break free, only not before dinnertime. In several overhead shots, Bong shows the pair in bed together, Do-joon’s hand clamped around his mother’s breast as if he’s a nursing baby, their raft-like mattress a sanctuary. The relationship is so unresolved that it isn’t even incestuous. Rather, it’s a murky fusion of parent and peer reminiscent of Roy and Lilly Dillon in The Grifters.

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    [total guesswork, having never seen the movie] - the script/acting/direction was so misguided that the audience didn't even feel that the principals managed to convey the basic tenet of the plot, ie that the mother/son relationship was, in fact, sexual. – Tetsujin Nov 18 '14 at 20:40
  • Non sexual, or possibly, that the relationship wasn't actually mother/son. The phrase "is so unresolved" basically has to mean "has so many unresolved questions". – Bacon Bits Nov 18 '14 at 21:15
  • Concur with @Tetsujin. In movie/literature reviews, "relationship" often is used to mean "the relationship dynamic as it is presented" Even if one of the characters stated that they were sleeping together, if their interactions on screen didn't suggest sexual tension, you might say that their relationship was platonic. In this case, it sounds to me like the reviewer thinks the movie does a poor job of creating an incestuous dynamic in their interactions: Are they angry at each other? Horny around each other? Intellectually curious about each other? We can't tell. – Adam Nov 18 '14 at 23:28
  • It should be pointed out that movie critics often pride themselves on using colorful language, and like to embed puns or metaphorical language linking back to the film they are reviewing. (One example, on a movie entitled Chef: "Chef is the perfect antidote to Hollywood junk food" – and there are plenty of others to savor in this review of Chef reviews.) My point? The underlying meaning of your excerpt may be confusing simply because the reviewer was trying to hard to force a punny witticism. – J.R. Nov 18 '14 at 23:36
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It means that the relationship is so confused, unsettled, odd, disordered, abnormal, that it cannot even be classified as incestuous, something we could understand. If the description is accurate, the relationship may not have been normal, but there is no actual sex between mother and son, or we can't be sure if there is.

  • Unresolved suggests to me that it is not a review of the characters' relationship, but rather a review of the actors and director's portrayal of the relationship. – Adam Nov 18 '14 at 23:30
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A classic example of why I beg and cajole O.P.s to provide as much context as possible.

When looking at the sentence as a standalone sentence, we can tell the word incestuous modifies the word it, but we assume the word it refers to the relationship.

However, when reading the sentence within the context of the paragraph, it becomes clear that it does not refer to the word relationship, but to the scene described in the previous sentence:

Bong shows the pair in bed together, Do-joon’s hand clamped around his mother’s breast as if he’s a nursing baby. The relationship is so unresolved that it isn’t even incestuous.

Here's how I would combine the two sentences into one. Words in [brackets] have been modified from the original wording:

Do-joon’s hand [is] clamped around his mother’s breast as if he’s a nursing baby, but [their] relationship is so unresolved that [this act of touching her breast] isn’t even incestuous.

I think the reviewer is essentially saying that this shocking act somehow doesn't seem incestuous, because the nature of the mother/son relationship had been so puzzling throughout the film.

More than anything, though, this shows the dangers of trying to interpret pronouns without surrounding context.

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