Hangul / Mother (2009)

Director: Bong Joon-ho
Starring: Kim Hye-ja, Won Bin, Jin GooSouth Korea. 2h 8m

This very daring South Korean movie is both alarming and fascinating,  with what seems like an extremely simple premise, a young man; with marginal intelligence is accused of murdering a  local girl. it’s an open and shut case, as an item with his name is found near the body and an eye witness places him at the scene of the crime.  But his ever doting mother turns into a dynamic Miss Marple and tries to unravel the case and prove her some innocence. So here we have it he’s either innocent or guilty,  sure either prove his Innocence or find evidence to prove his guilt, it can’t be any simpler than that?

If this film was made for the American audience,  this would indeed be the narrative, and any deviation  would result in an uproar, the audiences would be frenzied,  but this is a South Korean movie and a film by  Bong Joon-ho the creative genius behind Host (2006)  and unusual creature feature about a toxic waste squid like beast that managed to terrorize a small community; dragging one young victim away causing her family members to tackle it for her return as  the authorities would not help or listen to them. In a similar stance, Mother shows that blood ties are strong and the state cannot be trusted to get the job done.

Do-Jun (Won-bin) has a friend names Jin-tae (Jun Goo) Jin tae Can easily manipulate the boy who’s a few sandwiches short of a picnic;  into doing anything he wishes, and the boys mental fogginess doesn’t help, especially when a shocking murder occurs in the city,  where a young girls body is left in plain sight for all to see and next to her is a golf ball with Do-Jun’s name on it. But did he do it? We just can’t be sure,  did Jin-tae and entice him to do it, through his typical gentle persuasions? again we just can’t be sure. Law enforcement believe that they have their man and lock him away.

Fortunately  for him, his mother,  a woman who’s never given a name throughout the movie, trudges around the city looking for evidence trying to  prove her sons innocence. The role is played by an amazing actress named Kim Hye-ja , who manages to carry your weight of the movie on her shoulders,  Generally by day , Mother sells herbs and her shop, and performs the odd session of acupuncture, alongside her lives her 20-something son who needs constant adult supervision, The opening of the movie sees him being hit by a car after stepping into the road and her running to his rescue.  Is this really the mind of a violent killer? Or could it have just been an innocent accident?

We learn everything that she learns,  and this isn’t a open and shut case in the slightest,  every step of the way , she finds new profound evidence,  much of the time not linking anybody to the murder but it step-by-step she starts to form a picture of what happened on that fateful night.It’s pretty evident that she’s only looking for information to clear her son’s name,  and starts jumping to some wild conclusions, and she almost has to stumble on the correct answers. Eventually she starts finding evidence which she cannot turn a blind eye to and the search becomes painful.

Mother is quite an adult film, not necessarily because of explicit material,  but just because it’s not a straightforward Hollywood formulatic film, you won’t simply know  how the film will unfold and it’s constantly chopping and changing. At times it can be incredibly sentimental and warming and other times this poor old lady is having to go into some extremely dangerous situations in order to save her son,  It’s not difficult to cringe as she confronts the dead girls mother insisting that her son didn’t commit the crime, and when she finds another person’s blood at the scene and takes the evidence to the police station, it’s hard not to hate how she’s treated for doing what any mother would do, and you can’t help feel for her. It will leave you guessing until the end and a few people will still be puzzled by what’s going on… Even afterwards  it’s a delight to be discussing what was really going on all the time. While there is a clear ending there is still so much more after the credits of rolled.

Rating 8/10

R: Host (2006), The Man from Nowhere (2010), A tale of two sisters (2003)
L:A-Z Korean Cinema, Mother Movies,

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