Mother (2010)

Content by Tony Macklin. Originally published on April 8, 2010 @

Mother is a mother of a movie.

It's a unique, convoluted journey along the bland surfaces and into the dark recesses of mother love.

For those that believe in justice, this movie probably is not for you.

When her simple-minded son Yoon Do-Joon (Bin Won) is accused of the murder of a high school girl -- and the police get a confession from the addled suspect -- his mother (Hye-ja Kim) goes on an obsessive crusade to prove her son innocent and find the killer.

Her son has trouble focusing and gets violent when he is called "retard," but she knows he didn't commit the crime.

As one watches the first half hour of Mother, he doesn't know quite where the film is going. South Korean director and co-writer Joon-ho Bong keeps us off balance. His movie is off balance.

Is it a comedy? There's slapstick as the son tries to kick a car and takes a pratfall. There's a Keystone Kops' rumble at a golf course. Is it a mystery? Is it a brutal revenge story? Is it a slog through the rain? Is it wacky or wise?

Bong is a wily necromancer. He weaves a fortuitous spell. Justice is trumped by fate and willfulness.

Mother is overflowing with misleading clues, false steps, and mistaken identities. Seemingly bad characters are not so bad; seemingly good characters are not so good.

Hye-ja Kim captures the flighty anxiety and desperate determination of the mother. Bin Won captures the ignorant, reckless vulnerability of her son.

Mother is as disparate as rice liquor and cell phones, acupuncture and perversity. It's full of rocks, umbrellas, and accidents, oh my.

It's wind-swept and mind-swept.

Mother may have a disconcerting conclusion, but it stays with you.

Mother is sometimes disappointing, sometimes intriguing, and sometimes enthralling.

Just like a real mother.

© 2000-2024 Tony Macklin