Mother review

Mother opens with its ageing protagonist dancing by herself, somewhat awkwardly, as if possessed, in a remote field. There is something peculiar afoot and the story, of a poor, single mother going to great lengths to defend her handicapped son, gradually unfurls to reveal a world where “peculiar” is just the start of it.

Korean films have made a small but welcome impact on our cinema screens in recent years and leading-light Joon-ho Bong returns with a small scale movie that The Host felt like it wanted to be (the director is clearly more interested in character relationships than marauding monsters) and follows Shaking Tokyo, the best of the short films in the Tokyo collection by some distance.

Mother is a taut, uncomfortable, darkly comic genre-defier. It is atmospheric and visually appealing, mixing wild foggy landscapes with decaying grey concrete drowned in torrential rain coupled with jarring sound effects and haunting music. Every single character is well developed, rich, and interesting and Hye-ja Kim is utterly fantastic as the sad, even pathetic but determined, menacing mother.

I find it hard to fault Mother. It is captivating, quite unique and superbly made, on every level.

5 out of 5

24th Aug 2010 | Official site | On IMDb