Mother Bong Joon-ho

Mother Bong Joon-ho
South Korean writer/director Bong Joon-Ho is three for three. Between 2003's serial killer caper Memories of Murder, 2006's revisionist monster movie The Host and now Mother, he's yet to falter in making gripping genre films. (His debut, 2000's dark comedy Barking Dogs Never Bite, is trickier to track down on this side of the pond.) Taking its cues more from the tense procedural action of Memories of Murder than The Host, Mother casts Kim Hye-Ja as a widowed, unlicensed acupuncturist who takes the law into her own hands after her developmentally-delayed son, Do-Joon (Won Bin), is arrested for the murder of a young girl. Unable to accept that her beloved offspring is capable of committing such an act, she joins forces with local roughneck Jin-tae (Jin Goo) to look into the victim's past and violently interrogate potential suspects (leading to one very memorable scene at an abandoned amusement park). Reflecting the stymied mires of police work previously explored in Memories ― where cops happily drop-kick suspects to coax confessions ― Bong also maintains the expert mix of humour, heart and pounding suspense that have defined his career as one of the most consistently interesting filmmakers currently plying the trade. Like all of Bong's films to date, Mother feels a tad overlong at 128 minutes. But it's so mesmerizing and beautifully photographed that it's a matter of the film feeling bloated, rather than distended. The disc contains a number of interesting, if unremarkable, features:(a making-of, interviews with the cast and director of photographer, etc. But most remarkable, is how open everyone involved is to talk not just about their role, but the film's larger themes of maternal relationships and devotion begetting self-destructive obsession. It's a refreshing change from the usual electronic press-kit material that shows up on most discs, which normally offer more self-promotion than legitimate insight. (Mongrel Media)