Mother is a fantastic story of the lengths a mother will go to protect her son. The film follows a mother’s attempts to prove her mentally disabled son, convicted of the murder of a child, is innocent. She is forced to come face to face with a cast of characters and realities that she was not quite expecting. Does redemption come her way? Watch the film, and you will see if it does.
From what I remember reading somewhere, this role was written specifically for Kim Hye Ja to perform. And she was awesome. She did a fantastic job carrying the burden of this woman’s life on the screen. She displays moments of excellent care, love, and concern. I have checked. However, I can assume she was at the very least nominated for lots of high prestige awards because of this role. This film offered her a multi-layered role most actors would die for. I love what she did in this film. Her portrayal set the benchmark, and the closest performance I have seen since in South Korean cinema was from LeeYong- Nyeo in “Mother is Whore”. Which was a legendary performance, in my opinion. It isn’t often a film that centers around a mature woman and not about her sexuality. Kim’s performance elevated this grounded character to heights rarely seen.
This was Bong Joon-ho’s fourth directed film at that time. It was different from previous work, which was a critique of social ongoings. This film, unlike others, was just about a woman and the flawed child she loved. It was about the mistakes we make as parents. The humanity involved in the film was absolutely beautiful to witness. It is a must-see.
For me, this is his best film. It isn’t as ambitious as Parasite and The Host. But it just brings something to the table in substance that feels perfect. Check out this film.
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2 thoughts on “Mother – 2009”
It s too bad that because this film is ostensibly about an old lady it must be considered a smaller film in Bong s oeuvre. It s not. It is every bit as brilliant, and as large, as Memories of Murder, in my opinion. In many ways this is the natural, and equal, follow-up to Memories of Murder. It s every bit the caper film that one was, and, although slightly more somber in tone, the film keeps unraveling in directions you don t expect making it much more a plot driven movie than a character study. Kim Hye-ja is, however, magnificent as the titular (gawd I hate that word but I m using it anyway) mother. There is a scene in this film where she tells the family of the victim her son didn t do it and her eyes are so electrically charged it made me jump back from the screen. Mother fires on all cylinders. The direction, cinematography, script, and acting are all grade A. It s one of those films where each of the secondary characters steals the show for a brief period. (How bout that cop who kicks the apple from Won Bin s mouth?) Bong does a remarkable job of populating the world of this film with real people and manages to give them depth and development in a very short period of time. I confess to having a little trouble tracking the other female characters in the film, but no matter. There is a scene (without spoiling anything here) where Kim Hye-ja asks the other retarded kid if he has a mother and it s one of the most complex and heart-rending scenes in cinematic history. Hyperbole notwithstanding, just freakin WOW! on that one when you ponder just why she is crying. I wasn t sure where Bong was going to end up going as a film maker. Barking Dogs Never Bite was a reasonable debut. Memories of Murder, a masterpiece. But was it a lucky shot? I m glad I don t have to consider the dismal Antarctic Journal a Bong film if I don t want to. The Host was lots-o-fun, but that s the one that worried me. Maybe he was going to start making blockbuster type films. But now, after recently seeing his contribution to Tokyo!, and now Mother, I have every reason to believe he is going to kick my butt with interesting film for a long time.
He is an amazing filmmaker. We are lucky to have him creating such important films. I feel like his film speak to the cinema snob in me. All his work minus his US films are great.