Thursday 13 May 2021

Mother (2009)

More Korean cinema for me and this time I delve back to 2009 and one of Bong Joon Ho's earlier films called Mother. As we all know he went on to do loads more, including the amazing Parasite, Okja and Snowpiercer too.

This one tells the complicated tale of a mother desperate to get her intellectually impaired son out of jail after he has been convicted of a young girl's murder with the lightest of evidence collected by a police team with somewhere between little and no experience of such grizzly crimes.

The very same police have no interest in her appeals for further investigation so she, along with one of her son's pals, start playing amateur detective to uncover the events of the night in question themselves. The mood of the film starts off as a light one, regardless of the subject matter and almost verges on the comic at times.

The son and mother are presented as funny characters making their way through life, she trying to protect him from people abusing him because of his impairment whilst making money through illegal acupuncture and he, trying to find a way to get into bed with a girl and at the same time work out if his aforementioned friend is actually his friend or not!

In actual fact, not a huge amount more happens for the first hour. It takes a long time to get going and there is a lot of background and build-up indulgence. However, you need to keep your eyes peeled throughout this time as there are plenty of hooks into the story, surprises and dark nature later on. So keep on your toes!

Dark it gets, too. There were three or four quite startling and eye-opening events which I really didn't see coming and plenty of twists and turns (particularly) in the second half as things gets less comic, grizzly, suspenseful and thrilling. Mother is completely convinced about her son being innocent and is prepared to do pretty much anything, surprising herself at times, in order to clear his name and get him out of jail.

The main players are all excellent in their roles, but particularly Hye-ja Kim in the title role and Won Bin as the son. Bong Joon Ho directs excellently keeping the audience on their toes, unfolding the tale as a master storyteller with the aforementioned hooks making up the clever plot twists and insights - whilst paying attention to gloriously observed cinematography. The visuals and camerawork are a delight throughout and I loved the music, selected a lot of the time as a single classical guitar, sometimes supported by orchestral tones.

I won't say any more than this really as I don't want to spoil things, but if you enjoyed the intricate plot detail of Parasite you will love this one too - but don't switch off after 45 minutes thinking that it's a bit dull and going nowhere. Just pay attention as the devil is in the detail! Highly recommended.

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