Director: Bong Joon Ho
Cast: Won Bin, Kim Hye-Ja, Jin Goo, Yoon Je-Moon,
Jeon Mi-Seon, Song Sae-Byeok
RunTime: 2 hrs 9 mins
Released By: Festive Films
Official Website: http://www.festivefilms.com/mother
Opening Day: 31 December 2009
is a single mom to 27-year-old Do-joon. Her son is her raison
d’être. Though an adult in years, Do-joon is naïve
and dependent on his mother, and sometimes behaves in ways
that are stupid or simply dangerous. He is a constant source
of anxiety for everyone. One day a young girl is found dead
in an abandoned building and Do-joon is accused of her murder.
An inefficient lawyer and an apathetic police force that closes
Do-joon’s case too quickly inspire his mother to act
on her own—to act as Mother in its purest form. Summoning
all her maternal instincts and trusting no one, she sets out
to find a killer and prove her son’s innocence.
After the international success of THE HOST, director Bong-Joon
Ho turns to this film that was played at the Cannes in 2009.
In MOTHER, a woman is forced to investigate a murder after
her only son is wrongly accused of the crime.
going to Bong’s latest film anticipating it to be remotely
similar to THE HOST will be very surprised. Superficially,
MOTHER is closest to his sophomore effort MEMORIES OF MURDER,
in that it is at heart a detective story about the death of
a young woman.
With MOTHER, Boon shows us his wits to deliver a psychological
study of dark, intense impulses, an intellectual piece about
man's suffering and an emotional reflection of a mother's
capacity for love. MOTHER may not be as immediately visceral
and broadly entertaining as the director's previous work,
but it weaves a strongly intense web as a deeper, more complete
story about our internal emotional worlds.
As a filmmaker, Joon-ho sensitively essays the material's
potential hysteria to deliver an absorbing, gripping modern
thriller. He shows a nice feel for classic, tightly directed
tension. In a way that surpasses his broader, less talented
American counterparts, the director's clean, unpretentious
visual style and simple, quietly affecting sound design deftly
ramp up the story's intensity (in particular, the wistfully
emotive score beautifully complements the story's dramatic
texture). Bong Joon-ho remains one of Korea’s top filmmaker
using comical situations to frame the story's intense storyline.
Even as a scene focuses on another character or the story's
ongoing mystery, he trains his camera on the mother's face,
which reveals her slowly crumbling interior landscape.
Kim Hye-ja acts as the titular character in this film and
her performance is nothing less than stellar, with each and
every emotion turmoil carefully and wonderfully portrayed.
Her performance is absolutely magnificent, the kind of performance
that seems to radiate straight out of the actress's body,
so that every small hand gesture or eye movement contributes
to our feeling that we're watching a real woman, really looking
out for her son. In addition, Won Bin pleasantly surprised
me with his most convincing performance yet. His Do-Joon is
creepy, mysterious and yet comical at the same time. With
this film, Won Bin proves that he is much more than just another
pretty face from Korea.
plot of the film is engaging and suspenseful as each scene
brings the audience closer to the truth, ending up with one
of the most unexpected twist and revelation at the end. As
the mother seeks the truth, the relationships become clearer
and characters become more endearing. The film's use of sound,
from the ominous rustling of leaves to the menacing sounds
of Hye-ja's herb chopper, is more effective than any music
score. The appearance of not more than two persons in most
frames, and the stark palette of primary colors of doleful
smoky blue and petulant rusty red create a sustained mood
of claustrophobia and discomfort. Soon, one could not help
but to empathize with the plight they are in.
All in all, MOTHER is not your typical tearjerker; however,
it will certainly draw the audience to feels for the characters
and may touch a few emotional chords in some.
(Nothing beats the greatest love of all - a mother's
Review by Sing Swee Leong