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Time Out says
Tue Aug 17 2010It often feels like Asian filmmakers have more opportunity and inclination to move around and experiment with genres than their Western counterparts. A Korean director like Bong Joon-ho can make his name with icy serial-killer thriller ‘Memories of Murder’ and solidify his reputation with goofy political monster smash ‘The Host’ before shattering expectations entirely with his best work so far: ‘Mother’ is a murder mystery, a melodrama, a black comedy, a heartbreaking tragedy, a keen social satire and much more.
The title role is one Joan Crawford might have played: a fierce matriarch devoted to her mentally challenged son Do-joon (Bin Won), whose world falls to pieces when he is arrested for the sexually motivated murder of a teenage girl. Her quest to prove his innocence forces our heroine (Kim Hye-ja, listed in the credits only as ‘Mother’) to take up arms against an all-male establishment, the dead girl’s enraged family and Do-joon’s crafty and duplicitous best pal Jin-tae (Goo-jin), an amoral layabout who provides some of the film’s most memorably shocking moments.
Bong juggles styles with insouciant skill, infusing his classic noir plotline with hints of Douglas Sirk melodrama, rainswept US indie realism and a brooding, blackly comic and almost Lynchian sense of a world spiralling out of whack. Kim’s performance captures perfectly the sense of a woman at odds with a society she can’t or doesn’t want to understand, her doomed quest leading her into ever darker and more uncompromising situations. Bold, unpredictable and quietly devastating, ‘Mother’ is Bong’s first masterpiece. Tom Huddleston
Author: Tom Huddleston