October 10, 2009

Mother: Family Ties Can Have a Strangling Effect When They're Too Strong

Moms of the world, it's time to face an ugly truth: You inspire some seriously freaky movies from all over the world: Mamma Roma (Italy), Mommie Dearest (U.S.A.), All About My Mother (Spain) and now Mother (South Korea) to name just a few. This last one -- from writer-director Bong Joon-ho -- stars actress Kim Hye-ja in what must certainly be the role of her life: an off-center, unlicensed acupuncturist/herbalist who'll go to any extreme to clear her son (Won Bin) of murder charges. That her 20-something child happens to be a simpleton with a spotty memory and a bad temper isn't helping her cause but like many a good mother before her, she forges on despite the odds against her. The cops exact a confession from her boy? So what! Her lawyer writes off the case as too difficult? So be it! Her son's shady best friend (Jin Gu) extorts her? That's fine as long as he furthers her efforts to unravel the case. What starts off as a heartbreaking homage to maternal devotion ends up a disturbing examination of obsession and an indictment of the sacrosanctity of familial bonds. If you sacrifice everything for someone, then you could end up with nothing but that in the end. Is it enough? You'll have to ask your mother.

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