If your child was accused of a horrific crime, to what lengths would you go to prove his innocence? In the acclaimed Korean film Mother, director Joon-ho Bong (The Host) explores that question. The result: an engaging, alluring mystery with a stunning conclusion.
Hye-ja Kim stars as the title character, who one day watches in horror as her mentally slow son Yoon Do-joon (Bin Won) is arrested for murdering a teenage girl. Convinced he is innocent, she becomes determined to find evidence to set him free, no matter what the cost.
Kim delivers an excellent performance, one of the best of the year. She walks a fine line between being emotionally fragile and hardened, a unique protagonist in every sense of the word.
The movie begins slowly but gets better as it goes along. The third act is especially strong. Still, it takes a while to get into the story - and even get to the point. Bong spends too much time developing character subtleties; trimming 10 to 15 minutes from the picture would have tightened things up splendidly.
Once it does get rolling, however, Mother is gripping. The revelation of the truth is a shocker. It will stick with you for a long time.
Mother isn't perfect; it isn't the amazing film I expected it to be. Nevertheless, it is a well-made mystery that gets better as it goes along. Recommended.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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