STUDIO: Magnolia Home Entertainment

MSRP: $26.98


RUNNING TIME: 129 minutes

• Making of Mother
• Production Design Featurette
• Supporting Actors Featurette
   • Cinematography Featurette
   • Music Score Featurette

The Pitch

It’s like the opposite of Psycho.  But still kinda psycho.

The Humans

Starring Kim Hye-ja, Won Bin
Screenplay by Park Eun-kyo and Bong Joon-ho
Directed by Bong Joon-ho

The Nutshell

Mother (Kim Kye-ja) loves her son.  Her son, Yoon Do-joon (Won Bin) is a twenty-something man-child who literally forgets what he did just moments before.  When a young schoolgirl is brutally murdered, all signs point to Do-joon.  It’s a done deal almost immediately even though Do-joon claims he didn’t do it, even though he can’t remember what really happened.  Mother believes him and will stop at nothing to exonerate her son and find the real killer.  But what results in her investigation is nothing like could’ve ever expected.

Hey, at least he’s not breastfeeding anymore.

The Lowdown

When you forget you’re watching actors and feel like you’re seeing real human beings coping with crises on screen, the act of going to the movies transcends into something bigger than just being entertained for two hours of your life.  You end up being transported into another world, another dimension perhaps, full of people almost like you going through extraordinary circumstances to which you can relate so much that you’re forced to the edge of your seat with excitement or sadness or glee.  Simply: it’s why we watch films.

And it’s why Joon-ho Bong is one of the most interesting filmmakers working today. 

“Dude, I’m not an alcoholic. Alcoholics go to rehablechhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”

The plot of Mother doesn’t break any ground, but the characters and performances are revelations.  This is Mother’s movie: she’s the one we follow from opening frame and she’s the last thing we see in the movie’s closing, haunting moments and she’s played with pitch-perfect pathos by Hya-ja Kim.  While we may sit back and say, “No way would I be going through all that trouble for that guy,” you completely believe why she’s doing anything and everything she can to help her son, even if it ends up being her tragic flaw.

But that’s not the most memorable character in Joon-ho’s minor masterpiece.  That honor goes to Yoon Do-joon, Mother’s son, who goes down as one of the most maddening characters in recent memory.  It’s a total testament to Joon-ho’s masterful direction and Bin Won’s remarkable performance, flawlessly embodying the role of a true man-child in every sense of the word. 

Usually known for its civility, people were shocked when the Ryder Cup turned ugly in the sand trap on hole 18, leaving several clinging to life.

As I watched the movie, I remembered the ridiculous line from Tropic Thunder where Robert Downey, Jr.’s character declares that, as an actor, “you never go full retard.”  Well, I’m sure it’s just due to his acting prowess, but Bin Won followed that advice to a tee, creating this shockingly stupid, mindnumbingly mind-numb twenty-something who still sleeps in the same bed with his mother.  He’s the kind of person you wonder how he even makes it through the day with his total lack of awareness and retention for simple, daily actions — he seriously forgets what he just did moments before, like he had a Memento-style short-term memory loss only minus the traumatic head injury.  Actually, he’s less like Leonard Shelby since he was aware of his disorder; no, Do-joon is more like a dog: helplessly clueless, unless someone calls him dumb, to which he takes great offense — much like Marty McFly’s response to being called “chicken.”

But the childlike naivete that comes along with his low IQ keeps us rooting for him and wanting him to put two and two together.  Bin Won plays this role so well that as the movie progresses, you can practically see the synapses firing and the neurological connections finally fusing together behind his eyes as he remembers the events of the fateful night that landed him in prison for the brutal murder of a schoolgirl.

“Uhhh, orange?  Pear?  Kumquat?  No, no no.  Banana!”

By the time the hazy memories clear and we see the real events that set this entire drama in motion, we’ve seen two people do unimaginable things for reasons not entirely foreign to what we might do in similar circumstances.  That’s what makes Mother such an effective and memorable film.  My only gripe with it all is with Mother herself, being hopelessly devoted to her son – creepily so, even watching up close while her son pisses on the side of a building – is set up immediately as willing to do anything to help her son.  And anything means… anything, which is why I didn’t find the climax to be that major of a character turn nor all that surprising when it happened. 

In the end, however, it still didn’t change the gravity of her actions and the weight of that coupled with the realities of her own son made for an affecting and satisfying conclusion despite it not packing as strong a punch as I hoped for going into it.

It’s why I consider it a minor masterpiece rather than a full-on landmark piece of cinema.  But, hey, minor or not, this is a movie you should definitely see.

The Package

The film is gorgeous.  Not only are the performances exquisite to behold, but the cinematography lives up to the same high standard.  Bong Joon-ho is a master and this presentation displays his work well.  It also comes with featurettes aplenty for your viewing and educational pleasure.

8 out of 10

Hank’s rendition of “Just the Two of Us” left him completely uninspired even though everyone around him thought it was pure magic.