Mother (Bong Joon-Ho, 2009): South Korea

Reviewed by Dru Radovich. Viewed at Graumann’s Chinese Theater, 2009 AFI Film Festival.

Bong Joon-ho’s Mother is the modern take on a twisted murder mystery story. Simply put, Mother is the tale of a mother’s mission to prove her son’s innocence. Never a dull moment to a seemingly basic plot line, Kyung-Pyo Hong’s cinematography, revealing gruesome details never-before-seen in films, is what takes the film to an entirely different level.

The film opens with the mother, Hye-ja Kim, in a picturesque field, a breathtaking golden wheat field, without a care in the world, dancing freely. The camera cuts suddenly to the mother closely watching her son from a distance as he is arrested. From that point on, Bong Joon-ho allows the audience into the head of the mother and the story unravels from there.

The tangled web of coincidences that stems from a concerned mother set out to prove her mentally slow son’s innocence not only backfires, but puts her in countless compromising positions as well. The close-ups of the mother and the unmasked details of her face allow viewers to side with the mother and understand the hardships she has overcome.  Bong Joon-ho does an incredible job of capturing every single detail in a mother’s thought process when it comes to rescuing her son. Although the events in Mother are outlandish and almost unheard of, the feelings and actions of the characters are easily relatable cannot walk out of this film without having taken a greater message to apply to their own lives. Loyalty and blind devotion to family, not to mention self- realization, are among the many messages to take out of this thrilling motion picture.

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