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July 20, 2010

DVD of the Week – Review of Mother (2009)

by NIR SHALEV

Mother is the latest film by writer/director Joon-ho Bong whose previous masterpiece The Host (2006), a summer monster movie, was surprisingly original and had mostly centered on a dysfunctional family; it also dabbled in social critiques similar to those found in Steven Spielberg’s classic film Jaws (1975).

When the fresh carcass of a young girl is found dangling from the roof of a house, police officials accuse Yoon Do-Joon (Bin Won), a mentally challenged 20-something year old male of the crime. Mother is the story of Yoon Do-Joon’s mother (Hye-ja Kim) and her mission of finding the culprit behind the frame-up of her son. He has problems with his memory (he can remember that his mother had tried to poison him when he was 5 years old but cannot recall the previous day’s events) and the cops can’t seem to perform their duties properly, and when the mother hires a lawyer he too is as useless as a doorstop. So she takes to the streets and hassles everyone that she can suspect as the killer until she finally understands what really happened.

To claim that the third act of the film contains an appropriate and melancholic conclusion would not be spoiling the film. It’s just that the South Korean cinema does things differently than Hollywood and for the most part it does it much better. Clichés and stereotypes aren’t found here, just unique and fully rendered individuals in which the conclusion of the murder mystery rotates around and involves deeply. This film contains a satisfying, if not necessary conclusion that makes one realize the power of the Asian cinema. We recognize in this film the foreign competition that make many of our movies mediocre simply because we stick to typical formulas to the death, and these types of films embrace uniqueness and change and are always character driven. Yes, even The Host.

In Mother, the performances are great, the music is terrific and tugs at the heart strings, and the cinematography is top notch.

Special features included on the DVD and Blu-ray are a “making of” and several other short features on the music, supporting actors, cinematography, and production design.

Other new releases this week: Cop Out, The Losers, The Most Dangerous Man in America, The Runaways


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