Mother is a devoted single parent to her simple-minded twenty-seven-year-old son, Do-joon. Often a source of anxiety to his mother, Do-joon behaves in foolish or simply dangerous ways. One night, while walking home drunk, he encounters a schoolgirl who he follows for a while before she disappears into a dark alley. The next morning, she is found dead in an abandoned building and Do-joon is accused of her murder. An inefficient lawyer and an apathetic police force result in a speedy conviction. His mother refuses to believe her beloved son is guilty and immediately undertakes her own investigation to find the girl's killer. In her obsessive quest to clear her son's name, Mother steps into a world of unimaginable chaos and shocking revelations.
Just as South Korean director Bong Joon-ho's previous film, The Host
, subverted the traditions of the giant monster movie to examine the effects of a crisis on a unique family, his latest effort, Mother
, embraces the tropes of the murder mystery for an unsettling and affecting story of parental love taken to its extreme. Popular South Korean television actress Kim Hye-ja gives a powerful performance as a downtrodden acupuncturist whose mentally challenged son (Korean A-lister Won Bin) is accused of murdering a local schoolgirl. Bullied into a confession by the local police (led by Yoon Je-moon of The Host
), the young man faces incarceration at a mental hospital unless his mother can discover the killer's true identity. Her inquiry leads her into classic noir territory, with perceived truths blown apart at every turn; in typical Joon-ho fashion, these discoveries are marked by moments of shocking violence, dark slapstick humor, and moving familial drama, which come together in a genuinely unique perspective on the nature of truth and commitment. The official South Korean submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards, Mother
is yet another entry on a growing list of exceptional motion pictures from one of the international scene's most intriguing filmmakers. --Paul Gaita