Memories of Murder may have put him on the international artform map and The Host may have hit a nerve with nerds everywhere, but Mother is where this filmmaker finally comes into his own - and the results are resplendent.
They call it a “maternal instinct”. By its assumed inherent nature, it suggests nurturing and protection. Taken to extremes, however, it could mean suffocating and domineering - after all, it’s not called “smothering” someone for nothing. Still, when her resolve is against the wall and her offspring are threatened, the female of any species will bristle and battle back with murderous precision. In a fascinating follow-up to his glorious 2006 giant monster movie The Host, Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho has decided to combine familial dysfunction with a quirky whodunit to create Mother. Featuring a fabulous lead performance from Asian TV star Kim Hye-ja and a twisting turning narrative that never gives away its intricate secrets, the results transcend the type to literally rewrite the genres being referenced.
Our harried heroine works in a medicinal herb shop. She also does a little illegal acupuncture on the side. As a single parent, she worries about her mentally challenged son Do-joon. He’s slow, quick to forget, and easily taken advantage of - especially by his ne’er do well best buddy Jin-tae. One night, after some drunken fun, Do-joon follows a frightened school girl down a dark back alley. The next day, she is found dead, and he is the lead suspect. Thanks to police incompetence, a open and shut investigation, and a shady high profile lawyer, Do-joon is framed and sent to prison. For her part, his mother believes he is innocent, and proceeds to follow-up forgotten leads and legitimate red herrings in a quest for the truth. What she’s not prepared for, however, are the many secrets she herself is keeping, or the depths she will sink in order to save her only son.