Sunday, April 4, 2010


If you’ve ever seen a Korean-made film you know that they do things a little differently. Extended scenes with no words? Bring it on. Sudden graphic violence? No big deal. Frank sexuality? Rock ‘n’ roll. They are a great reminder of how far films can push the limit and an even better wake up call to action-junkie American cinephiles.

Mother, directed by respected Korean auteur Joon-ho Bong, best known for this thrilling take on the monster genre with The Host, crafts another subtle gem about a desperate woman trying to save her innocent son. Seen it all before right? Nah, not like this.

The Mother, played to utter perfection by newcomer Hye-ja Kim – who, in a perfect world, would get an Oscar nom - knows that her mentally handicapped adult son has been framed for the murder of an innocent schoolgirl. The cops think have an open-and-closed case, so she has to go it alone to solve the crime. But this isn’t your average protagonist. This Mom will stop at nothing to reach the truth, including, in a hilariously violent scene, the hiring of a local badass to get some answers from some petty kids.

I have to tread carefully here, in fear of revealing too much. As is often the case with foreign films, the climax is completely left open, which is why I feel it is necessary to admit that the truth in Mother is clearly discovered, to our shocking, fragile minds.

This movie says a lot about human nature and it will surely provoke some great post-movie chat, but again, it’s impossible to discuss here without taking the piss out of the thing.

If you’re looking for a new country to explore cinematically, I’d definitely recommend Korean flicks. And Mother sure as hell ain’t a bad place to start. A-

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