Saturday, December 18, 2010

MOTHER (Bong Joon-ho, 2009, South Korea)

A mother must tear down the wall that imprisons her son while facing the fact that she helped build it in the first place. Director Bong Joon-ho once again focuses upon an unfocused family: like THE HOST, the film’s conceit is a masquerade that conceals the familial trauma boiling underneath.

Hye-ja is an aging widow, her beauty fading beneath the veneer of time who must care for her only son, a mentally handicapped young man incapable (so she believes) of living independently of her crushing attention. Do-joon is physically a man in his mid-twenties (alluding that she had him later in life) but burdened with a mind that ceased growing in grade school. She has taught him to fight, to stand up for himself, but she is always there to bail him out of trouble though he is rarely the cause. She smothers him with love and affection, even sleeping in the same bed together like a baby, never wanting him to grow up and leave the nest. But one day a girl is found murdered and evidence leads to Do-joon’s arrest and conviction.

The film becomes an investigative procedural as Hye-ja avers his innocence because she cannot accept the possibility that her son is a murder. The police quickly close the case and she begins to uncover her own evidence to acquit her son, following the path of least resistance whose convoluted path becomes a journey of self-discovery. The story is literally teaming with red herrings, oblique motives, tortured testimony, and false leads whose conclusion becomes an inexcusable morality, shifting culpability and audience compassion. Hye-ja knows finally knows the facts but cannot accept the truth, redacting her own guilt and dissecting the corpus delecti, leaving the audience in the position of jury to decide if Justice has been served.

Final Grade: (B+)

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