Wednesday, March 17, 2010

MOTHER (2010)

Written by Park Eun-Kyo & Bong Joon-Ho

Directed by Bong Joon-Ho

Where & When: Laemmle's Sunset 5 West Hollywood, CA. March 16, 2010,4:00PM

We first see Hye-ja, the title character played by Kim Hye-ja walking through a field when she suddenly stops and proceeds to slowly start dancing. Bong Joon-Ho's latest film, "Mother" shows us all the disturbing events that led up to this opening scene but it still doesn't help explain what it is supposed to mean but perhaps that is another part of this strange and fascinating mystery.

Hye-ja is a vendor and an unlicensed acupuncturist who cares for her mentally challenged son, Do-joon (Won Bin). Hye-ja's world revolves around her son but their relationship is probably a little too close for their own good.

One evening, Do-joon goes out to meet his only friend, Jin-tae (Jin Goo) who Hye-ja doesn't particularly care for, out for a night of drinking and skirt chasing. Jin-tae doesn't show up and Do-joon gets really drunk. While stumbling home, Do-joon sees a school girl walking ahead of him. Since he is drunk and horny, he calls out to her. She gets nervous and runs into an abandoned building. While standing outside of the building, a large rock comes flying out and nearly hits Do-joon. It appears that he just walks away afterwards from the building.

The next day, the school girl is found murdered. Her body is hanging over the balcony on top of the building and her head had been bludgeoned. Do-joon is brought in for questioning since he was the last one seen with the victim. He doesn't remember much from that evening since he was intoxicated. Since he had no lawyer or his mother there to help him, he is coerced in to signing a confession to the murder. He is sent to prison without a trial.

Hye-ja knows her son couldn't possibly be involved in this murder but the case is closed as far as the police is concerned. She realizes that it will be up to her to solve this crime and find the real killer. She will do whatever it takes to protect and save her child.

She first suspects Jin-tae as the possible murderer and she goes to some extreme lengths to find some evidence. After what she finds in his home turns out to be nothing, she continues on searching for clues. While visiting Do-joon in prison, Hye-ja is informed that he remembers something but it turns out to be a horrible, dark secret from his childhood that horrifies her and she can't believe that he can recall it.

Hye-ja continues on with her investigation until she finally finds some answers but in a clever but unnerving twist, things are not at all what they appear to be. Despite these new revelations, Hye-ja does what she feels is the best action to clear her son from a life behind bars although it makes one wonder whether her actions are simply a mother's love or should we question her state of mental stability?

"Mother" is dark, creepy, shrewd and mildly comical. Mr. Joon-Ho uses a slapstick style of humor at the beginning, perhaps to offset the disturbing themes throughout the rest of the film but I don't know how effective it is. I found it distracting and it is out of place for the type of film this is. This story is just simply too morose and the comedy felt awkward and forced.

Ms Kim gives a dazzling and intense performance as she digs deep inside of this fragile woman who is determined and willing to do anything to save her only child. This is one "Mother" you don't ever want to mess with.

"Mother" has been called a Hitchcock type of film and while this is supposed to be a high compliment and there are certainly elements in this, this film goes places that Mr. Hitchcock would never dream of going. Mr. Joon-Ho has a style that is uniquely his own and he takes this seemingly routine story and pushes it into directions that are shocking and unexpected. Don't let the subtitles scare you off from seeing this film. You will not see a film that is even close to as provocative or thrilling as "Mother".