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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 4 December 2010
"Mother" is the story of the mother of Do-joon, a mentally slow 27 year old still living at home. The mother is an unlicenced acupuncturist who sells medicinal herbs from her small town shop. After a night on the town, Do-joon is accused of murdering a school girl. The mother, believing her son innocent, investigates the facts behind the murder and slowly but slowly determines the identity of the murderer.

Bong Joon-ho, the Korean director of acclaimed films "Memories of Murder" and "The Host", has created another modern gem in "Mother". Following a slightly bizarre opening in which the mother walks through a meadow and then breaks into a dance, "Mother" slowly but assuredly moves forward to its shattering conclusion. In contrast to his previous effort "The Host", there is little in the way of special effects, and "Mother" is very much a story driven film. This is a strength of Bong's; he is able to tell a story without reverting to unnecessary window dressing. However, the real delight of the film is the portrayal of both the mother (Kim Hye-ja in a poignant performance) and of the son (Won Bin, the younger brother from Taeguk-gi aka "Brotherhood"). Both actors put in stellar turns but they are ably assisted by the supporting cast - particularly Jin Ku as Jin-tae, who puts in a crucial turn that belies his initially unsympathetic characterisation. The film's events takes place in a small (unidentified) town in South Korea, and this has a distinctly grimy and rural feel, both in setting and in its inhabitants.

Issues? Well, this is not a particularly fast paced movie and this is quite reminiscent of another director who knows how to tell a story, Clint Eastwood. Still, I think the pacing could have been picked up in a couple of places, and the director does take his time in establishing his characters before moving to the violent event that really sets the story in motion. But this is the only fault I could find, and I couldn't bear to mark this film down for that, because it is a brilliant cinematic story in all other respects.
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on 30 October 2010
Do-jung (played by Bin Won) is a rather simple young man that is constantly finding himself in trouble because of his friendship with local small-time hoodlum Jin-tae (Ku Jin). One night, Do-jung follows a young girl home after a drunken night out. When her dead body shows up the next morning, the police sense an easy case and arrest Do-jung for the crime. Do-jung is unable to remember the night in question and unwittingly signs a confession sheet condemning him with the crime. At this point we follow his unnamed mother (Kim Hye-ja) as she goes to great lengths -some of which are unimaginable- in which to prove her sons' innocence.

Directed by Bong Joon-ho (who also wrote & directed 2003's masterpeice 'Memories Of Murder'), this is a wonderful character study of the love between a mother and her only son. The shocking nature of some of the scenes are interspersed with absurd, straight-faced humour which constantly gives the dark subject matter even more depth and humanity. The performances are superb throughout but special mention must go to Kim Hye-ja. She is simply sublime. Each scene she plays unto itself with little regard for what came before or of what is to come later, this is the sign of a pure actress giving a performance of genuine emotion & gravitas without ever succumbing to the histrionics that other, more well known actors, would surely provide.

This is as good a film as I've seen all year (and believe me, that is too many to count) and is proof along with the harrowing chinese war drama 'City Of Life And Death' that the asian film market is currently in great health.
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on 27 September 2010
From the director of 'Memories of Murder', 'Mother' continues to an extent that film's theme of bungled justice. This time the accused, a young man with special needs, has his mother to fight his cause. But 'Mother' treads the tightrope between righteously defending the accused and allowing motherly feelings to overwhelm a sense of justice.

All of the central performances are excellent, but special mention must go to 'Mother' herself. Kim Hye-ja creates a believable portrait of a woman who lives equally between hope and denial. 'Mother' hurls its characters towards its shattering conclusion and in doing so leaves the viewer with a complex array of feelings towards its main character.

Another excellent example of Korean film and another film for American cinema to attempt to emulate and fail miserably
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on 11 October 2015
From a superb asian director (maybe the best around now) a film that is a profound and disturbing drama about a mother-son relationship, with a violent side that makes it even more compelling and unsettling.
Personlly I prefer The Host and Memories of a Murder (from the same director) but this is a definitely must see
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I had been meaning to see this for a while and now regret putting it off. This is another fine example of how excellent Asian and in particular Korean cinema has become. This is from the writer and director of `Memories of Murder' (Bong Joon-Ho)and he builds on his reputation here with another brilliantly crafted film.

It tells of the story of the `mentally challenged' Do-Jung (played by Bin Won), his mother is a herbal medicine maker and illegal acupuncturist on the side. Her son is slow witted and hangs around with a local n'er do well Jin -Tae. He tends to lead Do-Jung astray but he is easily led. His mother has an almost fanatical devotion to her son which goes to extraordinary lengths to care for him.

Do-Jung is supposed to meet Jin-Tae one night at a local bar, but Jin -Tae fails to show. Do-Jung gets very drunk and after passing out is told to get out. On his way home he follows a young girl and tries to talk to her, he is rebuked and goes home. The following day she is found murdered and left in a conspicuous place so is easily found.

The police carry out an unimaginative `investigation' and decide it must be Do-Jung. He is so confused that he signs a confession.

This is where it kicks off, his mum starts to do anything she can to get him released. The lengths she will go to, know no bounds and her journey to discover the truth reveals more truths than she ever wanted to come out.

This is a two hour film that feels like half an hour. It is beautifully shot, the musical score is excellent and the acting superb. This is a story of the human condition, slovenly police and a corrupt system of justice. It could also be called `how far will a mother go?' It had me gripped through out and the unpolished reality of the sets was truly refreshing. If you are a world cinema fan then this is a must see.
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on 11 March 2015
Interesting and intriguing storyline.

I don't think I'm giving anything away if I say the story is ultimately tragic as it might not be in the way you that you think. Not one to watch if you are looking for something to brighten your day.

This has some good performances from the actors and has a degree of cultural insight which helps to make it interesting to watch.
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on 6 March 2016
This movie starts slow, never gets very fast, but it's wonderful and very well told as the theme isn't easy to approach. A mother is always a mother, that's all it needs to be said. Fantastic performance of the main actress.
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Mother is a fascinating subtle off-beat South Korean film about a devoted single mother's attempt to prove that her son (a 20 year old of marginal intelligence) is innocent of the brutal murder of a teenage schoolgirl. The film has a quirky humour running through it which belies an underlying darkness which is slowly revealed as we follow the mother's odyssey as she tirelessly investigates the murder herself, behaving like a desperate and unhinged Miss Marple. She is a palpable force of nature searching for the truth, resolute in her quest and uncovering many of the village's unsavory secrets along the way. The resolution is certainly unexpected, but this film is much more than a `who done it' as it skillfully explores the moral choices faced by the mother as the facts surrounding the murder are gradually uncovered.
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on 18 April 2011
This is one of the finest examples of Korean film making- an outstanding mix of comic, disbelief, suspense, culture and "who dunnit"- it is just outstanding.
The "Mother" is played by an amazing actress who manages to portray every spectrum of emotion and age. She looks old and worn down by life and the constant goings on of her son. Then in another scene, she looks radiant. When her son is taken away by the police she is so distraught and the scene is heartbreaking.

Her "son" portays this incredible idiotic being and it's hard to belive he can function in life without her at his side, in fact the film proves that he can't.

She takes the commitments of motherhood to a whole new level- a MUST see if you love Korean and Asian film making.
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on 11 May 2015
Joon-ho Bong is my favorite living director. He has a wonderfully oblique take on the world. He seems to be able to take a cliche from Hollywood cinema, turn it totally inside out and come up with a whole new meaning. Here we have that old Hollywood stand-by of someone accused of murder by a lazy and corrupt police department. In this case, mother comes to the rescue with surprising results, which I will not spoil for you by revealing the plot.

J-hB is not to everyone's taste. I can imagine that some people may find him silly and somewhat affected, but, if you have an open mind, a dark sense of humour and an appreciation of stupidity, corruption and incompetence, then there is no-one better in world cinema. Mother may not be the first of his films you should watch. The Host is more fun. If you do not like that, then you will not appreciate Mother. Whichever one you start with, you owe it to yourself to try at least one of his films.
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