Mother (2009) – Joon-ho Bong

The next film on the What Else to Watch list following my screening of Oldboy for DK Canada’s The Movie Book is this Korean thriller that features a stellar performance by Hye-ja Kim as the titular, Mother.

Living with her son, Do-joon (Won Bin), a slightlu challenged young man, Mother prepares medicines, and performs acupuncture to make money. The relationship between mother and son is strong, and almost unnerving, but it all comes down to a mother’s love, even as Do-joon tries to live for himself.

One night, as he is stumbling home drunkenly, following a young woman, until he is frightened off, and goes home to mom. The cops show up the next day however, as it seems he is the prime suspect in her murder.

Mother is sure of his innocence, and is going to prove it. On her own if the police and lawyers won’t help, and she begins to investigate the victim, the town, and those who live there, uncovering dark secrets as she goes.

The truth is shocking, and it cuts to the very heart of the audience, as a mother’s love, a disabled young man, and a town come to grips with guilt, innocence and sacrifice.

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I really enjoyed this one, the performances are solid, realistic, and you can follow Mother’s emotional arc and through line easily in the course of the film, recognizing and relating to her motivations, even as the story is revealed around her.

There is a real sense of mystery and discovery happening in the course of the film, as Du-joon attempts to recall what happened, and his mother learns secrets that float just below the surface of the town.

It’s a beautiful looking film, both stark, and filled with heartache at the same time as this woman’s singular journey to protect her son separates her from all she knows, including her own moral judgement as she ignore laws, to seek out proof, even circumstantial that will prove that she is right, that her son couldn’t commit these crimes.

There is so much in terms of Korean cinema out there, and there is some truly stunning and captivating films, and it is truly something to see Hye-ja Kim bring this character to life, allowing you to sympathize with her while reacting in shock, or being unnerved by the things she does.

I like how the story puts layer upon layer, not necessarily creating red herrings, but possibly making the case more complicated than it needs to be (on purpose), to obfuscate what really happened, who was really responsible, the reasons, and the fallout of it.

If you’ve not seen this one, check it out! If you have, then pick up a copy of DK Books’ The Movie Book and find a new to you classic to watch tonight!

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