Kim Hye-ja stars in MOTHER, directed by Bong Joon-ho for CJ Entertainment.

Mother (2009, Bong Joon-ho)

At the end of Mother, there’s the moment where the film’s got the big moment where Bong’s either going to make something transcendent or something simply excellent. Not a strange moment, lots of films have this moment. Throughout, especially in the second and third act, Bong ratchets it up a notch or two, making these amazing plot decisions. But at the end, he’s got to do something amazing. And he does it.

Then he does it again.

Mother ends superior to how I could have imagined it five minutes earlier. I was planning on starting on a light foot, mentioning Bong reinventing the monster movies with The Host and next making a film to make Hitchcock jealous. But instead, he’s made something I didn’t think could be done, at least not with all the constraints he’s got. Mother‘s summation is the work of a master.

Bong’s a fantastic director; great Panavision, beautiful cinematography from Hong Kyung-pyo. It’s just great looking.

The acting, though, is where Mother needs to be perfect. Kim Hye-ja pulls off the title role–a not particularly smart, deeply pained woman whose life is about caring for her mentally challenged son. Her performance is without compare.

Won Bin is good as the son, with some great scenes. Jin Ku has the showier role as his no good friend who’s got a couple surprising secrets. He nearly steals the film with his scenes.

It’s a fantastic film. If not Bong’s best, his most ambitious. And quietest.



Directed by Bong Joon-ho; screenplay by Bong and Park Eun-kyo, based on a story by Bong; director of photography, Hong Kyung-pyo; edited by Moon Sae-kyoung; music by Lee Byeong-woo; production designer, Ryu Seong-hie; produced by Choi Jae-won, Park Tae-joon and Seo Woon-sik; released by CJ Entertainment.

Starring Kim Hye-ja (Mother), Won Bin (Yoon Do-joon), Jin Ku (Jin-tae), Jae-moon Yoon (Je-mun), Jun Mi-sun (Mi-sun), Lee Young-suck (Ragman) and Na Mun-hee (Moon Ah-jung).


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