Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mother (2009)

Mother is just getting a US release and it’s a film that will knock you back and kick your feet from under you.

It’s a film that you have to be willing to allow take its time to complete. Don’t assume anything about what’s going on at any point. I mention this up front since when I saw this at The New York Film Festival last year there was appoint at which about 20 people all through the audience got up and walked out. It was as if a certain revelation was too much for them, little did they know that there was even more twists and turns coming. I’m mentioning this because this is a film that doesn’t truly end until the credits roll. If you go don't leave until the end. I say this at the outset because most US films end before they end. This one doesn’t, and it would be a shame if you miss something.

This is the story of a mother whose son is charged with killing a young girl. He’s a none too bright kid who is severely mentally handicapped. Knowing her boy she instantly springs into defending him and clearing his name. How far she goes and what is revealed in the course of that is the movie.

This is a film from Joon-ho Bong who directed two marvelous films that also play with your expectation, Memories of Murder, the true story of the hunt for South Korea ’s first recognized serial killer and The Host, a monster on the loose film that wrecks every convention that went before and reset the board. Neither of those films followed the normal course and where they went made you sit up and take notice. They were singular films from a singular mind, who it could be argued is one of Korea ’s best directors.

The story, a heartbreaking, nerve jangling tale is very good, however what kicks this up a couple of notches is Kim Hye-Ja as the title character. She is amazing. When I saw the director speak after the NYFF screening he said that she had made her career playing typical motherly characters. This is a take on that. In some ways she is the mother we all would want and yet in other ways… let’s just say that maybe not.

Its certainly one of the two best lead performances by an actress I saw in 2009 (Xun Zhou in Equation of Love and Death is the other). I can’t really compare the two performances fairly since they are so different. I won’t dare try and say who is better because the effect of both performances is different.(I want to say more but I don’t dare, you'll understand when you see this film why I'm so careful)

Do yourself a favor and just see this movie. Don’t read any more about it then you have . Just see the film with as few expectations as possible. Just see it.

Just be prepared to be knocked about, and I can not stress this enough, STAY TO THE VERY END.

Currently going into US theatrical release this is coming out on DVD elsewhere in the world. However you see it. Just see it.

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