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Mother - Review

Mother

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

KOREAN filmmaker Bong Joon-ho is rapidly becoming the must-see director of his generation at the global box office.

Having already proven himself with the critically-acclaimed likes of Memories of Murder and The Host, his latest offering, Mother, underlines his talent as both an astute writer and brilliant director.

It’s also marked by an exceptional lead performance from Kim Hye-ja as the woman at the centre of the story, who ensures you’ll be gripped in the ensuing tale from beginning to end.

Hye-ja plays the eponymous heroine, a single mother whose son, Yoon Do-joon (Bin Won) is her world. Unfortunately, Do-joon, at 27, still has the mind of a child and is completely dependent on his mother, even sleeping with her at night.

When a young girl is found dead on the roof of a run down building, evidence is found that incriminates Do-joon and he is accused of the murder.

Hye-ja, however, refuses to believe him capable of such a crime and, after a lawyer proves inefficient and in the face of police apathy, sets out to prove his innocence herself.

Joon-ho’s film serves as both a family drama and a murder investigation that boasts a larger-than-life style approach. Indeed, there are almost surreal and comic elements to Hye-ja’s journey, as well as moments of high tension and even bloodshed.

But the director and his leading lady keep you entranced throughout, gradually piecing together the various clues that contribute to the film’s memorable climax.

As mentioned before, Hye-ja is exceptional as the Mother of the film’s title – a fiercely committed parent who will stop at nothing to prove her son’s innocence. But while dogged in her pursuit of the truth, she also displays a humility, a vulnerability and a deepening sense of despair that makes much of her story heartbreaking to watch.

It’s a performance that helps to make the violence in the film all the more shocking, especially late on.

But then there is so much to admire in Joon-ho’s movie that the plaudits surrounding it seem fully justified. It’s a riveting, emotionally driven drama that deserves to find a very wide audience.

In Korean, with subtitles

Certificate: 15
Running time: 2hrs 4mins
UK DVD Release: September 20, 2010