Wednesday 14 August 2013

Mother (Madeo) [2009]

Bong Joon-ho showed his adroitness at seamlessly fusing dark humour and foreboding mystery with sharp social satire, with the brilliant Memories of Murder. Those skills were once again on full display in Mother, even if the humour was a bit more toned down here, and was instead replaced with psychologically incisive human drama. The film opens, on a rather perplexing note, with a middle-aged lady breaking into a carefree and blissful jig in the middle of nowhere, the significance of which wouldn’t be apparent to the viewers not before the memorable final scene. The aforementioned lady (Kim Hye-ja), a widow, sells medicinal herbs and performs unlicensed acupuncture in order to somehow sustain herself and her dim-witted son Do-joon (Won Bin) who she loves fiercely and is immensely protective of on account of his intellectual disability. Consequently, when a teenage girl is found murdered in their community and her son is charged with the crime, going to the root of the event becomes the sole priority in her life as she is convinced of her son’s innocence. However, as she eventually starts realizing, the more she learns about the young girl and the deeper she delves into the crime, she realizes that the truth is far more difficult to digest than she had anticipated. And then dawns our realization that she is ready to go to any lengths to get her son released. What thus eventually emerged was a deeply tragic tale of lost innocence, social apathy, urban violence, and a rather discomfiting mother-son relationship. Kim gave a powerful and nuanced turn as one of the most memorable on-screen mothers.

Director: Bong Joon-ho
Genre: Drama/Psychological Thriller/Crime Drama/Mystery
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

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