This is it folks – the end of the line! 2011 and it’s best and worse films have finished for the year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep the tradition going! How about taking another gander at a previous top pick for best film in 2010…welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick! We’re ringing in the end of the year with a look back at a masterful thriller about a mother willing to go to any (and I do mean ANY!) lengths to keep her son out of harms way. A murder, a mystery and mom is on the case! It’s my 2010 #1 movie pick - Bong Joon-ho’s five-star film..."Mother."
Hye-ja is like most moms – she constantly worries about her sweet son Do-joon. Shy and with an intellectual disability, the trusting Do-joon is a source of great concern and attention for the hard working widow. So when a local high school girl is found dead and circumstantial evidence places Do-joon at the crime scene, the doting mother finds herself now caring for her boy again – only this time it’s to save his very life. She tries to plead to his defense attorney, the police and anyone who will listen that she believes her simple son innocent. But no hope in sight, she takes off to investigate - herself.
It’s at this point where the concerned parent plot takes a dark turn and where Mother gets even better. There’s so much at play within the film’s dim corridors; sex, violence, torture and even a pinch of cold-blooded killing. But an uplifting and hopeful side beautifully balances it out as well and the duality of these opposites is where Bong Joon-ho and his work come to life. In his previous film "The Host," he mixed the elements of an old school monster picture with the dynamic of a dysfunctional family to terrific results. But with "Mother" there’s such a grace mixed with the mayhem that it’s like being on an emotional rollercoaster – and it’s one ride worth taking.
As the lead momma, veteran Korean actress Kim Hye-ja gives one subtle and riveting performance. It could have been easy to take this part way over the top, but the wise Hye-ja underplays the joy and sorrow, all the while portraying a woman with a singular focus to protect her son at all costs – it’s amazing work.
Some will never see "Mother" due to it’s Korean language, but I say remakes be damned. There’s a reason they lift stories from these films – they’re that damn good! And "Mother" is a classic example of what a nuanced filmmaker can do with a story that’s simple, led by an actress who isn’t. Pamela Voorhees and Joan Crawford be damned – this mean "Mother" has got your back.
Cast: Kim Hye-ja, Won Bin, Jin Goo
Director: Bong Joon-Ho
Running Time: 128 minutes
Release Company: Magnolia Pictures