Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
Watch On
  1. An absolutely phenomenal film by the Korean director Bong Joon-ho.
  2. 100
    Its combination of dazzling cinematic craft, psychological insight and black humor make this one of the year's moviegoing musts -- and even or especially at her most deranged, Kim Hye-ja's amazing mother is profoundly, passionately human.
  3. Another must-see marvel of horror, comedy, and impeccable filmmaking by the Korean director Bong Joon-ho.
  4. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    An alluring piece of work, an artful whodunit that melds shrewd plotting with resourceful camera work and sympathetic characters that are fascinatingly, morbidly off.
  5. 91
    Again as with Bong's earlier films, Mother is a genre exercise that honors convention, yet weaves around it whenever possible. Bong carefully turns Mother into a classic gumshoe tale, with red herrings, interrogations, and moments of sublime suspense.
  6. 91
    To follow up his superb "The Host," director Joon-ho Bong has crafted a remarkable film about love, faith, determination, guilt, and honor, a full-blooded, constantly inventive movie that enthralls, entertains, horrifies and never lets go its grip.
  7. Reviewed by: Maggie Lee
    A superb murder mystery, with twists coming thick and fast yet always at the right moments.
  8. The hard-pounding heart of Mother, Ms. Kim is a wonderment. Perched on the knife edge between tragedy and comedy, her delivery gives the narrative -- which tends to drift, sometimes beguilingly, sometimes less so -- much of its momentum.
  9. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    A Hitchcock-ian murder mystery that unfolds into a maternal melodrama worthy of Joan Crawford, shot through with bursts of black humor. Bong's ability to sustain three or four different tones in one movie without betraying the emotional truth of the story is nothing short of amazing: He can pat his head, rub his stomach, and break our hearts all at the same time.
  10. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    You never know where Mother is going to go next. All you know is that you're in the hands of a master with an appreciably bent sense of humor.
  11. 88
    The film is labyrinthine and deceptive, and not in a way we anticipate. It becomes a pleasure for the mind.
  12. Reviewed by: Andy Klein
    The easy comparison here is to Hitchcock, but Bong moves at a slower pace, more like Claude Chabrol.
  13. Bong's film starts out as a comedy, transforms into a quirky Agatha Christie whodunnit and finishes with an unpredictable Hitchcockian flourish.
  14. Bong's style is comically tart even in the film's most noirish moments.
  15. Reviewed by: Simon Kinnear
    Jan 25, 2015
    Korean maestro Bong Joon-ho’s (The Host) playfully off-kilter Hitchcockian thriller refuses to play by genre rules, stir-frying slow-burn menace and Freudian drama into unpredictable combinations.
  16. Reviewed by: Andy Klein
    Mother is a thriller as well as . . . something else.
  17. Reviewed by: Richard Nilsen
    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.
  18. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    A chilling, intense character study.
  19. Moments of great suspense are sometimes invested with intrinsic humor, moments of trauma can yield great compassion. Often, these seemingly conflicting tones exist all at once, while the oblique mystery never clearly identifies the correct emotion.
  20. 75
    Mother is yet another winner by Bong, one of Asia's most talented directors.
  21. 75
    Mother delights in confounding viewer expectations. In fact, just when you think it's over, a couple of plot developments remain lurking around the next corner.
  22. 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?
  23. 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.
  24. 75
    A deadpan, darkly funny Korean murder mystery.
  25. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    Key casting is aces, led by a deglammed Kim, forcefully low-key as the mother who seems capable of anything to protect her son.
  26. 70
    The fact that Mother keeps its balance is a tribute to the leading actress.
  27. 70
    For all its jarring sound design and herky-jerky pacing, founded on sudden incidents or shocking accidents, Mother is deftly plotted, applying Hitchcockian suspense with a Hitchcockian sense of fair play.
  28. Reviewed by: Barbara Goslawski
    Bong's stylistic embellishment of the simple tale of a mother who will do anything to protect her son is breathtaking.
  29. 50
    Bong's opening and climactic scenes, in which the old woman bops around to a dance tune amid a vast field of yellow grass, are typical of the movie's cockeyed poetry.
  30. Bong is so concerned with whodunit that his creaky genre mechanics diminish Kim's determined performance.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 49 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 9
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 9
  3. Negative: 2 out of 9
  1. Apr 9, 2011
    South Korean cinema has always been my favourite. They've produced such gems as "Oldboy", "Samaritan Girl" and "A Tale of Two Sisters" andSouth 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. Full Review »
  2. Nov 30, 2010
    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 halfAwful, 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. Full Review »
  3. Aug 8, 2013
    "Mother" is an alluring piece of work, an artful mystery that melds clever plotting with resourceful camera work, with sympathetic characters"Mother" is an alluring piece of work, an artful mystery that melds clever plotting with resourceful camera work, with sympathetic characters that are fascinatingly morbid. South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho follows his monster extravaganza "The Host" (2006), in firm control of his medium in a different genre, proving once again that conventions need not always confine.

    After a night of drinking and waiting for his long time friend, Do-joon (Won Bin), finds himself in some serious trouble. The next morning, he is accused of murdering a young woman on his way home from the bar, and he has no recollection of whether or not he did. The case has enough evidence to be closed quickly, but his mother, played by Kim Hye-ja, refuses to believe that her son could do such a thing. So she pushes forward, not accepting what the police have pieced together, and starts her own investigation to find the real killer, and free her son.

    The film is a labyrinthine and cleverly deceptive, and not in a way we might anticipate. Long after a conventional thriller would have its destination in plain sight, "Mother" is still penetrating our assumptions. There are twists are aplenty, and deductions achieved too easily are simply the result of contrived clues and convenient witness testimony. "Mother" delights in confounding viewer expectations. In fact, just when you think it's over, a couple more developments still remain.

    The film progresses with remarkable clarity, while drawing surprise and suspense from unexpected places. It's director Joon-ho Bong's unique style of old and modern approaches to filmmaking his stylistic and subtle ability to weave this story, and employing a witty use of dark humor throughout is what makes this film so impressive. "Mother" slowly burns its way towards revelations and depths of a character's soul that most dramatic thrillers shy away from.

    The most surprising aspect of "Mother" is how differently it begins, and from that, what it becomes. Unique and utterly compelling in its entirety, "Mother" concludes in a manner that solves all (or nearly all) outstanding riddles. "Mother" deftly weaves a story about mother's love into a mystery thriller that will keep you guessing every step of the way.
    Full Review »