Pin It
Favorite

One Mother 

The mysteries of the maternal heart drive director Joon-ho Bong’s latest.

click to enlarge art15005.jpg

Mother is the kind of movie that stays with you, the kind of movie you find yourself gravitating back to whenever your mind starts to wander from the task at hand. You realize you’ve been shampooing your hair for five minutes while pondering the visual symbolism of a certain nuanced shot. You pause, sandwich halfway to your mouth, hypnotized by memories of Hye-Ja Kim’s performance.

You wonder ponderously whether you understand director Joon-ho Bong’s motives. Does Mother cunningly reveal the truth through its twisted, turning plot? Or does the truth remain hidden, obscured by convincing stories from secondhand sources and possible liars, by murky memories and the imaginations of characters who are slightly less than sane? And, in end, does it even matter? Because, really, was the plot ever the point?

That said, while it may not be the point, the plot is what gets you thinking.

Mother is the story of a middle-aged, low-income South Korean woman’s struggle to vindicate her son after he is arrested for the murder of a neighborhood girl. Played by Kim, the woman is known only as Mother throughout the film — fitting, as she seems to have no sense of identity outside of her maternal role.

Mother lives for her son — a handsome young man in his mid-twenties, with the memory and intelligence of an elementary school child. She supports him, cares for him and cooks for him. Mother and son even sleep in the same bed. He’s stupid and harmless, to the point that he allows himself to be wrongfully charged with property damage after his best friend smashes the side mirror of an expensive car early in the movie.

When he’s arrested for murder, Mother insists that her son is innocent, and we agree. This guy, commit murder? Impossible.

Without money to pay an attorney, Mother begins her own brand of criminal investigation, sneaking around the neighborhood as she spies on possible subjects and paying neighborhood kids for information on the murdered girl.

Mother seems a little unstable, but you’re rooting for her; it’s a classic underdog story. And for a moment, a conspiracy seems to be taking shape: The girl prostituted herself for food and kept pictures of her clients on her cell phone. Could it have been one of them?

But just as you’re expecting Mother to discover the true killer, the whole story gets turned on its head. Suddenly, the story is about something much worse than finding a murderer. It cuts down to the marrow of Mother’s character, yielding a portrait of who she is and what she must do to protect her son that is both horrifying and sympathetic.

Mother is a true psychological thriller. Where many films in the genre rely on tense music and ridiculous mind-f--- strategies to deliver often less-than-satisfying “thrills,” Mother explores the explosive — and even deadly — power of the human heart, a power that any one of us might tap. 

Tags:

  • Pin It

Latest in Film

  • Third-World Problems
  • Third-World Problems

    Owen Wilson and Lake Bell take a stab at drama in No Escape
    • Aug 26, 2015
  • Slaying The Shark
  • Slaying The Shark

    Meru is one outdoors doc that knows a great story trumps great stunts
    • Aug 26, 2015
  • No Winning Side
  • No Winning Side

    Cartel Land offers an intense look at vigilantes fighting Mexican drug gangs on both sides of the border
    • Aug 19, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
Love Moon, Dark White Light, Haunted Tubes

Love Moon, Dark White Light, Haunted Tubes @ Baby Bar

Wed., Sept. 2, 9 p.m.-1 a.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

More by Carey Jackson

  • Arts Happenings in September
  • Arts Happenings in September

    Gods of war and Eva Peron meet anti-messianic punks to get Bavarian with Buddy Holly.
    • Sep 14, 2010
  • Arts Happenings in October
  • Arts Happenings in October

    Sharks and Jets knife-fight over contemporary ceramics and Bugs Bunny.
    • Sep 14, 2010
  • Arts Happenings in November
  • Arts Happenings in November

    The wolves of North Idaho meet tiny Texan techno nerds and a woman who found 19 types of gazelle.
    • Sep 14, 2010
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Spokane Sounds Like...

    The music we're more likely to listen to than any other city
    • Aug 19, 2015
  • Paternity Leave

    Has Wilco finally moved away from the 'dad rock' label?
    • Aug 12, 2015
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film

Music


Film


Punk


Review


Festival


© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation