Movie Review: Mother

After seeing haunting Memories of Murder and the really fun The Host, I was excited to see Joon-ho Bong’s Mother.  It also came with rave reviews from my buddy Dikran, whose opinion I really respect.

Like the two previous movies I went in knowing just about nothing in regards to the plot, which is pretty refreshing.  I think sometimes we are inundated with trailers and sales material that sometimes you walk into a movie having felt like you’ve already seen it.  I’m glad I didn’t because this movie was exactly what i had hoped from Bong.

A serious mystery/drama with elements of humor that only exists in Asian films for some reason, this wasn’t as creepy or entwining as Memories of Murder, but as a character study was a much more vibrant film.

We follow Mother, the aptly named mother to a somewhat dim adult, Do-joon, who still lives at home.  He’s been arrested for the murder of a teenage girl… and his mother sets out to clear his name.  Dedicating her every waking second to restoring her son’s name and bringing him home, she goes from down on her luck to rock bottom… but never gives up her fight.  Hye-ja Kim gives the performance of a lifetime as Mother, the best female performance I can recall in recent cinema. Apparently a well-known television star in Korea, Bong does an excellent job of subverting her role here.

But this is no mere character study, the case takes some extremely interesting twists and turns and has the audience guessing about who the killer reallly is the entire time.  And the ending will definitely surprise you.

Bong shows that he is truly becoming a master of cinema.  His name should be right up there with the leaders in other parts of the world, such as Fincher and Aronofsky.  I wonder when he will make the jump across the pond, if ever.

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