Sunday, August 8, 2010

Mother (2009)

Director: Bong Joon-ho
Notable Cast: Kim Hye-ja, Won Bin, Jin Ku, Yun Je-mun, Jeon Mi-seon, Song Sae-Byeok

With my love for The Host and the general positive praise for this film, I simply had to get my hands on Mother, the new dramatic thriller from Korea's Bong Joon-ho. Although not necessarily the energetic and surprisingly artistic monster film that The Host was, Mother is a rather compelling and heart heavy dramatic ride into character work and relationship between a mother and son when all they have is each other.

Yoon Do-Joon tries very hard. Is is a little slow mentally and despite his effort to remember things and be an honest man, he tries so hard to be normal that sometimes he screws up. But after a night drinking 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.

Thrillers tend to be rather cliche anymore in most aspects, but luckily Mother happens to be the vision of Bong Joon-ho, a very talented young director and writer. Its his 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 Joon-ho uses well, Mother slowly burns its way towards revelations and depths of a characters soul that most dramatic thrillers shy away from.

Sometimes the film does find itself almost too heavy in the hand and slow on the draw, as it guides its viewers to discover the truth and reality. With little amongst the way of dialogue (what there is is brief and almost excruciatingly thought through, not necessarily a stab at the film but a choice by Bong Joon-ho) it relies a lot on visual work and acting. This is fine, but it makes for a rather long and somewhat static film that many may find boring if you are not prepared for it.

Mother is well crafted and executed, but at times it does drag on a bit and rely too heavily on the subtlety of the script and its actors. It's a visual experience and does show the wide range of talent for Bong Joon-ho, but it isn't his best work. Still worth the watch definitely for its artistic thriller spin on what could have been just another drama, but it's not for everyone. 

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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