Korean drama Mother is a story of maternal love. Bong Joon-ho director of The Host tells the story of a widowed woman (Kim Hye-ja) who sells herbs in a small Korean town. She looks after her only son Do-joon (Won Bin) who has an unspecified mental disability which makes him shy and come across as forgetful and dim-witted. He is referred to as a retard by those who know him and want to get a reaction from him. One night on his way home from a bar, Do-joon spots a teenage girl walking alone. He calls after her but then goes home. The next morning the girl is found dead and Do-joon is arrested for her murder. Convinced of his innocence, his mother stops at nothing to uncover the real killer.
The story is thoroughly enthralling and it twists and turns, constantly throwing up new clues or misdirections. I thought I had figured out who the killer was, and what their motives were on a number of occasions only to have another twist thwart my attempts to figure it out. The film is very good at giving obvious misdirected clues as well as subtle hints, some of which go nowhere while others are important. The story had me well and truly gripped.
Both lead actors are excellent. Kim Hye-ja, who won awards for her portrayal of the mother, is full of despair and determination and you can emphasise with her cause. You get the feeling from the outset that she will do literally anything to prove her son’s innocence and not stop until she has exhausted every line of enquiry. Won Bin is also very good as the mentally challenged Won Bin. It looks as though a lot of work went into researching his character and getting every facet spot on. Bong Joon-ho’s direction is quite superb. Each shot is exquisitely framed and the film looks very beautiful. He has also got superb performances from his cast.
The film has a satisfying climax which as well as tying up all the loose ends, gives complete closure to every part of the film. It was well worth waiting the 128 minutes to get to.
I haven’t got a bad word to say about the film but it lacks something I can’t quite put my finger on to make it a five star film. Nonetheless, it is remarkably well made and features some very poignant moments, particularly towards the end as well as great mystery and even a humorous first act.