Monday, March 08, 2010


On Saturday night, I screened Mother, starring Kim Hye-Ja and Weon Bin.

There are very few limits to a mother's love.

When mentally disabled Do-jun (Bin) is accused and arrested for the murder of a beautiful young girl in their Korean village, his widowed, devoted mother (Hye-Ja) takes matters into her own hands to prove his innocence. The trouble is, no one truly knows what happened on that fateful night.

Do-jun hangs around primarily with Jin-tae (Jin Gu) who is a troublemaker that easily convinces Do-jun to follow suit. Just days before the brutal murder, both are punished for damaging a car and attacking a group of golfers following a hit-and-run accident. Do-jun's lack of intelligence puts him in an unreliable position to convey the truth. He also has a very violent response to folks who tease him about his condition.

After he is booked for the crime and the case is considered closed, his mother (who has limited means and runs an underground acupuncture business) retains a lawyer and searches for the truth. We're led through a series of possibilities based on what she learns from the deceased girl's friends, and begin to develop a sympathy for the situation.

Rooting for this mother to get to the bottom of what the police won't investigate, our natural instincts want her to be correct, not because we like her son so much, but because we sympathize with her pain of raising a special needs child. At the same time, our rational minds wonder if there is more to the story.

Turns out: there is. Much. More. To. The. Story.

And it goes on, and on, and on, until we almost don't care who killed the poor girl as long as we'll be released from the narrative purgatory at some point.

The film started strong with excellent acting by all of the main characters and a few shocking moments of violence (squeamish me could do without so much blood, though). Yet the sheer volume of information we're made to wade through for what some may interpret to be a simple resolution is not necessary.

Plus, the ending happened three times before the film was over. It would've helped to conclude it at the first opportunity, but instead we're forced to endure lengthy, excessive scenes that minimize the impact of the actual discovery.

A shame, considering the concept and acting were so solid.


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