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79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 46 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: The latest film from award-winning Korean director Bong Joon-ho (The Host) is a unique murder mystery about a mother's primal love for her son. Mother is a devoted single parent to her simple-minded twenty-seven-year-old son, Do-joon. Often a source of anxiety to his mother, Do-joon behaves in foolish or simply dangerous ways. One night, while walking home drunk, he encounters a school girl who he follows for a while before she disappears into a dark alley. The next morning, she is found dead in an abandoned building and Do-joon is accused of her murder. An inefficient lawyer and an apathetic police force result in a speedy conviction. His mother refuses to believe her beloved son is guilty and immediately undertakes her own investigation to find the girl’s killer. In her obsessive quest to clear her son’s name, Mother steps into a world of unimaginable chaos and shocking revelations. (Magnolia Pictures) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30
  1. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    100
    An alluring piece of work, an artful whodunit that melds shrewd plotting with resourceful camera work and sympathetic characters that are fascinatingly, morbidly off.
  2. An absolutely phenomenal film by the Korean director Bong Joon-ho.
  3. Reviewed by: Maggie Lee
    90
    A superb murder mystery, with twists coming thick and fast yet always at the right moments.
  4. Reviewed by: Richard Nilsen
    80
    It may be slow by Hollywood standards, but it's accessible at every moment, and we come away feeling that human character is more complex, and perhaps darker, than any studio is willing to test an audience with.
  5. 75
    The movie's utter lack of predictability helps to keep you engaged, even if some of the plot turns are a bit baffling, and the unusual depth and complexity of the characters -- the eponymous heroine in particular -- give the picture its unusual, scalding power. You've never met a mother quite like this one.
  6. Mother symbolically doubles as Mother Korea, devoted to her land. But is she blindly and uncritically devoted, too quick to forgive and forget sins that should be redressed, to treat any flaws in the national character as simply intrinsic to the country's nature?
  7. Bong is so concerned with whodunit that his creaky genre mechanics diminish Kim's determined performance.

See all 30 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 9
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 9
  3. Negative: 2 out of 9
  1. Apr 9, 2011
    10
    South Korean cinema has always been my favourite. They've produced such gems as "Oldboy", "Samaritan Girl" and "A Tale of Two Sisters" and none of them ever cease to amaze me. Joon-ho Bong's "Mother" reminds me of the Coen Brothers' "Fargo" (one of my all-time favourite films) in many ways. It juggles genres effortlessly and excels in every single one of them. At times, "Mother" is a hair-raising thriller, but at other times it has wonderfully witty comedic tones. At its heart, however, the film is an oddball murder mystery led by an incredibly beautiful performance from South Korean soap opera star Hye-ja Kim. Edited and shot with dynamic precision, "Mother" is not only too gorgeous for words, it's also easily one of the best films of 2010. Expand
  2. Oct 21, 2011
    9
    Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho returns with yet another masterful revisionist genre film. He's already tackled the murder-mystery (Memories of Murder) and the monster movie (The Host), now he turns his hand to the thriller. On the face of it, Mother doesn't appear to have much in common with run-of-the mill thrill-rides, but like it's title character, the film can be deceptive. What could be more thrilling than a Mother's desperate (and sometimes morally questionable) journey to prove her son's innocence? Mother is a taut, grounded psychological thriller with a liberal dose of Bong's trademark jet-black comedy. There are numerous heart-pounding moments, but also plenty of quieter, well-placed emotional beats to bring you crashing back down to reality. Bong continues to prove he is a master of character - and the mother (Kim Hye-ja) and mentally ill son Doo-joon (Won Bin) are among his finest creations to date. Kim is simply mesmerising throughout, and while some of the mother's actions are questionable (and others downright evil), you're always on her side - it's a great character. Another fine film a Korean master. Expand
  3. Dec 17, 2012
    9
    I must say I found this a really great watch! Aside from the many cultural nuances, of which there are many, I found it a riveting tale with some very nice twists. Beautifully shot with a very nice musical score by Byung-woo Lee, I found it easy to follow (despite the inconvenience of subtitles). All the performances were excellent but I must pull out Hye-ja Kim for her tremendous portrayal of this driven woman, a great piece of work! Over all, it Expand
  4. Nov 23, 2010
    7
    People can call this a thriller all they want, but they should title the movie "Courageous Mother". You find a mother's son, accused of murder, when in fact the police have very little evidence that proves he did it. The movie show's you the events that leads up to the murder of the poor little girl, but doesn't give you much to go off of. The mother desperately tries to tell the police that he is innocent, and soon she does find out the clues to the murder. It's brilliant: The cast and the plot. It doesn't amount to much in the end, but you would need to sit through the 2 hours in order to fully understand it isn't just another crime drama, because the movie is more of a drama than an actual Dan Brown thriller. Expand
  5. Sep 22, 2012
    7
    A wonderful thriller, unraveled masterfully by a director destined to leave a strong legacy in the Korean cinematic history, with exceptional performance by Hye-ja Kim playing the mother whose protective instincts drive her to extremes. Expand
  6. Jun 6, 2011
    6
    It is a very strange movie. The way the mother is treated makes you wonder how the Koreans treat each other in normal life. It is also a creepy movie, not really a thriller or horror movie, but the movie oozes an atmosphere of gloom and doom. And the ending is surprising. Recommended. Expand
  7. Nov 30, 2010
    1
    Awful, just plain awful. I could not even finish this movie. I tried to watch it for three nights in a row and only got through about half of it total. Don't bother. Expand

See all 9 User Reviews

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