Mother (2009)
By: Devon B. on January 14, 2011  | 
Eastern Eye | Region 4, PAL | 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced) | Korean Dolby Digital 5.1 | 123 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Joon-ho Bong
Starring: Hye-ja Kim, Bin Won, Goo Jin, Je-mun Yun
Screenplay: Joon-ho Bong, Wun-kyo Park
Country: South Korea
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While I enjoyed director Bong Joon-Ho's The Host, I did feel it dragged on too long in some places. Unfortunately Bong has let things run over long again in Mother. I was a bit more forgiving with The Host because no matter how slow it got, eventually I got to see a big monster run amok in South Korea. The monsters in Mother are of the human variety, which means once my attention had wandered there was nothing to bring it all the way back.

The film centres around a very protective, fretful mother who does have some genuine reason for concern, as her son is a bit special. His memory seems to come and go, sometimes displaying amazing recall for events several years prior, and other times forgetting what happened to him earlier in the day. He thinks golf balls are a valid form of currency and that being 27 and sharing a bed with his mother is fine. His misguided friend encourages him to find a girl to have sex with, and the next morning a young girl is found murdered. The son confesses to the crime but can't remember committing it, so his mother decides to be a detective as she won't see her son jailed without a fight.

Mother is a worthy film with good performances, some great cinematography, and some unique situations, but because it's too long I'd lost interest well before the big reveal of the plot. The tagline acts as a warning for what the viewer's in for eventually, but most of the movie is a murder mystery. I don't mind a good whodunit, but because of a directional choice made early on I found the story less engaging than it could've been. I can't really explain what that choice was without giving too much away. However, this criticism is so integral to my overall enjoyment of the film that I feel I have to clarify, so the next paragraph is full of spoilers. Skip it if you haven't seen the film.

Early in the film we see the young girl just before she is assaulted and the film is cut to lead the viewer into thinking that the son hasn't done the murder. While this puts the viewer in the same spot as the mother, completely believing the son's innocence, I felt that the story would've been more interesting with a bit of ambiguity in regard to the son's guilt. Also, when it was revealed the son had killed the girl, it didn't feel so much like a twist as a cheat, further dampening the film's impact.

Mother is mostly well crafted, and there are some good elements like the son not even knowing what happened on the night in question, but it's just too long and suffers from a directorial choice that really pulled me out of the experience.
The film looks great. The print is sharp and clear.
The film has both a 5.1 and a 2.0 mix with English subtitles. There's more depth in the 5.1 but you don't lose much with the 2.0 as the focus of the movie is character interaction. The subs contain a few minor errors.
Extra Features
The disc comes with a 9 ½ minute making of where Bong explains about his long standing interest in his leading lady. The section also has pop up text that needs to be translated, so gets a bit hard to follow at times. There's a pretty pointless minute long thing on the first and last day of shooting, which is really just a hello/goodbye. There's 18 minutes of behind the scenes footage and a roughly nine minute interview with Bong. There's also a three minute featurette on the main characters and the director, plus a second two minute featurette focusing on other characters. The teaser trailer, full trailer, and trailers for other Eastern Eye titles are also included.
The Verdict
Mother isn't a bad film, but I think it could've been better. My quibbles in this instance may be the sort of thing that others don't even notice, so if the idea of a South Korean murder mystery sounds good, check it out.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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