Mother

"Excellent"

Mother Review


Striking direction from the gifted Bong Joon-ho (The Host) makes this dramatic thriller both darkly unnerving and powerfully moving. It's a superbly well-assembled film with surprises in store every step of the way.

Do-joon (Won) is a mentally simple young man who lives with his mother (Kim Hye-ja). He's also utterly oblivious to the bigotry he receives everywhere he goes, and his best pal Jin-tae (Jin) doesn't really help matters as he stirs up the people around them. Then a young girl is found murdered, and a detective (Yoon) arrests Do-joon because he's the handiest scapegoat. This sends Mother into action to find the real killer and to mete out her own revenge.

From a simple but brilliant opening shot, Bong holds us firmly in his grip, finding jagged floods of joy and pain lurking in the corners of every scene.

The story is packed with blackly hilarious observations, cruel comedy and deep emotion as this tiny, unassuming woman quietly battles to protect her son from anything that might cause him harm. In other words, despite the film's sharp edges and grisly story, this is an affectionate ode to motherhood.

Kim Hye-ja's marvellous face conveys her thoughts and feelings without the need for much dialog, and Bong captures every tiny glance as she's persistently distracted by whatever might be happening to her son. Won is also effective in a difficult role, balancing Do-joon's wonder and naivete with a murky sense of menace. His interaction with Jin, as the friend who's smarter but not as good-looking, is terrific. And side characters have personality tics that are just as lively.

And then there's the quiet commentary on Korea's justice system, as the cops callously disregard evidence to close the case quickly. Clearly, Do-joon isn't capable of murder, although we quickly realise that Mother is. The ensuing tension is edgy and unexpected, keeping us off balance trough each twisted turn of the plot. And along with all of this, Bong offers us telling insights that show us the truth but convince us of something else. Intriguingly, the film's closest relative is probably David Lynch's Blue Velvet and yes, Bong's filmmaking is just as bravura.



Mother

Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Run time: 128 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 28th May 2009

Box Office USA: $0.3M

Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Fresh: 105 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Bong Joon-ho

Producer: Park Tae-joon, Seo Woo-sik

Also starring:

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