- Starring: Bin Won, Hye-ja Kim
- 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
- Director: Joon-ho Bong
- Genre(s): Drama, Mystery, Thriller, Crime
- More Details and Credits »
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
"Mother" is a South Korean film by Bong Joon-ho, his first after "The Host" (2006). That was a popular thriller about a giant squid, created by toxic waste, who dragged away a victim. Her family members learn she's still alive, but can't get the authorities to listen. Once again, in "Mother," blood ties go up against the state.
The mother of the title, played by respected South Korean actress Kim Hye-ja, is a force of nature. In a village, she runs a little shop selling herbs, roots and spices. Her sideline is prescribing herbal cures. Her son Do-jun (Weon Bin), in his late 20s, lives at home and they sleep in the same bed. He's a few fries short of a happy meal. Early in the film, he's saved from death in traffic when his mother races to the rescue."Mother" is an alluring piece of work, an artful whodunit that melds shrewd plotting with resourceful camera work and sympathetic characters that are fascinatingly, morbidly off.
"Mother" deftly weaves a story about mother's love into a mystery thriller that will keep you guessing every step of the way, with enough emotional firepower to twist a knot in your stomach when the story plays out. After a night of drinking and waiting for his long time friend, he finds himself in some serious trouble. The next morning is accused of murdering a young woman on his way home, and he has no recollection of whether or not he did. The case has enough evidence to be closed quickly, but his mother refuses to believe that her son could do such an act. So she pushes forward and starts her own investigation to find the real killer and free her son.
The film is labyrinthine and deceptive, and not in a way we anticipate. It becomes a pleasure for the mind. Long after a conventional thriller would have its destination in plain sight, "Mother" is still penetrating our assumptions. So much depends on Kim Hye-ja's performance as a remorseless parent defending her fledgling. Likely she has spent years helping her clueless son escape one dilemma after another, and now she rises to the great occasion of her life. Her struggle is made more difficult because the police find it child's play to extract a confession from him. There are twists aplenty and if some of the deductions arrive too easily as a 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 of plot developments remain lurking around the next corner.
The film mostly progresses with remarkable clarity and visual wit, drawing surprise and suspense out of unexpected places. Hong Kyeong-pyo's cinematography peers at the dead girl, folded over a balcony, through her own legs; it regards the smooshed face of a drunken Do-joon from beneath a glass table; it follows Mother's eyeball as she snoops on a pair of lovers and then averts her gaze. Joon-ho Bong's unique style of old and modern approaches to film making--his stylistic and subtle ability to weave this tale, and his rather disturbing use of dark humor- that makes this film stand out. With stellar performances from a rather impressive cast that Bong uses well. "Mother" slowly burns its way towards revelations and depths of a characters soul that most dramatic thrillers shy away from. "Mother," and South Korean films in general, provide a case study of the situation of alternative films. Many Americans have never seen a South Korean film and never will.
The most surprising aspect of "Mother" is how differently it begins, and from what it becomes. The first 30 minutes mislead us into anticipating a black comedy about social injustice in South Korea as we follow the misadventures of a simple-minded young man whose relationship with his mother is close enough to be considered sickening. A deftness of touch is required for a director to switch direction so suddenly in mid-stream, and Bong's execution of this 90-degree turn is not jarring at all either. Unique and weirdly compelling in its entirety, "Mother" concludes in a manner that solves all (or nearly all) outstanding riddles.… Expand
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