Mother movie review & analysis Korean (2009)

4.5/5 - (2 votes)
Mother Korean Poster

Director: Bong Joon Ho

Wrtier: Bong Joon Ho, Eun-kyo Park,

Stars: Hye-ja Kim Won Bin Jin Goo


Summary: A mother desperately searches for the killer who framed her son for a girl's horrific murder.

Mother Trailer
Mother Review

“Mother” a South Korean movie released in 2009 and directed by Bong Joon Ho is in many ways a return to the director’s specialty genre, one in which he’s proved to be successful. Joon Ho’s debut for the international cinema was his masterpiece “Memories of Murder” released in 2003. However, after this impressive beginning, what followed was a derailment in his career resulting from his learning toward sci-fi genres. “Mother” in many ways, was a return to his old ways. For those following the director’s works, some of the scenes in the movie enjoy a stark resemblance to his earlier works. For instance, the reenactment of the murder scene by the police and the crowd which gathers to watch the suspect is awfully similar to Joon Ho’s previous work. If we take the film’s Yoon Do-joon to be similar to the mentally disabled kid in the director’s previous work, “Memories of Murder” then the consequent comparison between the mother of the 2009 movie and the father of 2003 follow logically. The father-son relationship in 2003 was profoundly moving and emotional, and it seems that the director has aimed to create a sequence of the same type of relationship. Joon Ho’s “mother” reassures his viewers of expertise and talent in creating suspenseful mystery movies with complex storylines;  in other words, his previous masterpiece was not a mere play of luck. “elaborate and deceptive” is how Roger Rebert describes “mother”, he judges the film to be labyrinthine and deceptive and filled with thrill and excitement. Some film critics even go further in praise of “mother” and compare the movie with Hitchcock’s “psycho.”

mother korean movie Kim Hye-ja character

Like many of his other works, Joon Ho has tried a mix of genres in his “mother.” Bryan Orendorff points out, and rightfully so, Joon Ho’s cinematic signature, that he’s not afraid of breaking the rules and mixing different genres. The director’s “host” is proof of such endeavors; there, Joon Ho mixes such genres as sci-fi and comedy. His “mother”, too, bears humor and comedy, albeit in a subtler degree, which is mostly present in the characters of Yoon Do-joon and Jin-tae.

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Joon Ho’s transgression of conventions is not limited to genres, such risky, albeit creative freedom, is also evident in the cinematography and framework of the film too; an example of the former is the movie’s opening scene when the mother comes into the field and begins a sorrowful dance, the odd movement defy conventional cinematography, here the subject is not necessary in the center of the shot. Such flouting of virtual conventions is evident throughout the movie. Overall, it is concluded that “mother” defies conventions at both a virtual and narrative level, one that goes against our expectations that often come from formatted and uniform movies of the Hollywood cinema.

mother movie korean mother and son in prison meeting

The star of the movie and also the mother of the title is Hye-ja Kim. Although she is relatively unknown in the international scene, Joon Ho stated in one of his interviews that she is a very popular actress in South Korea and described her as the “mother of a nation.” The director went even further and claimed that Hye-ja Kim’s character inspired much of the screenplay, not vice versa. The actress’s motherly anxiety and worrying is clearly tangible. Despite the character’s few lines, her masterful expression of emotions and feelings proves to be moving for the viewer. Her impressive performance in the following scenes requires particular praise: when she goes to the police station to check on her son; when she sits beside the friends of the victim with a sincere heart to get some information about the case, or when she; or at the end of the movie when she faces the new suspect and says with tearful eyes ‘don’t you have parents?’.

won bin mother

It is quite interesting how in film’s beginning scene where the mother is dancing in a field carries such profound emotions, feelings that we, the viewer, expect from the mother of the title in the latter part of the movie, and it is truly impressive that an actress can convey all of these teaser emotions that we build only a two-hour long movie early in the film and as a previous. Later we come to experience each and every single emotion. Perpahs, one of the few setbacks of the film, is the weak characterization of the police officers. It is true that they occupy a short space in the movie, but still, it is big enough for the viewer to demand more knowledge over their feelings and past record. The fact that we know their torture method to be the SPECTACRA is not enough. Although Bong Joon Ho has delved into the historical record of his police officers in his “Memories of Murder”, the bridge between the two movies has not been built by the director.

won bin mother Yoon Do-joon police station

Another weak point of “Mother” is perhaps the non-existent subplot(s) in the movie. Aside from the main story which is that of Yoon Do-joon being accused of murder and his mother desperately trying to prove his innocence, there is no other secondary story or subplot. This sometimes leads to the mother’s protracted detective work to seem boring and dull to the viewer, making him lose interest in the work. It is very well possible that a deeper dive into Jin-tae’s life by the director could have proved another avenue for revitalizing the film’s dynamism. I imagine such a work wouldn’t have been a troublesome endeavor since we are already familiar with the character’s personal life to a good extent. We know that he’s in contact with the girl working in the Manhattan restaurant; on the other hand, we are also aware of the fact that the mentally disabled Yoon Do-joon was only shown a good-hearted welcome and reception by the same girl. So a love triangle could have easily filled this vacuum that is felt in the screenplay, but such a thing is not undertaken by the director, and no alternative is given either.

Mother character and Jin-tae at her home

Allow me to make a sincere confession without overstating anything. I want to say that I am deeply influenced by Bong Joon Ho’s works. What sets South Korean mystery movies from their American counterparts is how plausible and close their characters and stories are to those of real-life people. Roger Rebert states that Disney works often focus on 3-D “event” movies, comic hero stories, and franchises like “Pirates of the Caribbean.” It has essentially abandoned films about plausible human beings. He maintains that “mother” unfolds a real story that might happen to any real human being. Therefore, Rebert’s conclusion in this regard is that watching indie or un-American films is not a luxury but a necessity. I particularly enjoyed this observation by Roger Rebert and am in total agreement with his view.

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Mother Korean movie ending explained:

Mother is now forced to coexist with a murderous son while also traveling and killing people herself. To forget her sufferings, she gives herself thigh acupuncture. The film ends.

Who is the killer in Mother Korean movie? Who killed the girl?

Karma Houdini: At the conclusion of the movie, Do-joon, the real killer, and his mother, who killed the only witness, manage to evade capture. Mama Bear: Even when it is proven that Do-joon is genuinely guilty, his mother would do anything it takes to save her son from being found guilty of killing Ah-jung.

Why is Mother 2009 Rated R?

Parents should be aware that Mother is a violent, coarse-language, and sexually explicit black comedy-drama that is produced in Korea.

Is Mother 2009 a good movie?

Critical reaction The movie has a 96% approval rating from 114 reviews on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, with an overall rating of 7.88/10. So we can say it’s a good movie.

About Author

I have loved movies since I can remember. This love is still in me and will be. Cinema is my life! On this site, my colleagues and I write articles that will help you to have a better and deeper connection with the world of movies and TV series. ENJOY!

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3 responses to “Mother movie review & analysis Korean (2009)”

  1. Hana says:

    A great examination of the bond between a mother and son with influences from Kurosawa (Rashomon) and Lee Chang-dong (Burning, Poetry). It’s a brilliant and powerful frame that pits Mother against/against nature’s overwhelming force. The actor that plays Mother is incredibly gifted. Even though I adored Parasite, I believe I liked this more. Bong does a fantastic job connecting maternal love with societal inequity.

  2. J.J says:

    Mother is quite dark, yet she’s also hilarious and caring. A carefully considered story that is bewilderingly unexpected. a gripping thriller, a murder mystery, and a family drama. Better for not fitting into traditional genre categories.

  3. JohnDo says:

    Many critics consider Bong Joon Ho’s works to be psychologically very similar to Hitchcock’s films. However, this Korean director has no qualms about showing the ugliness, and maybe it’s better to say a view of real life. This feature can be well seen in the rainy night sequence in the film Parasite. When the Kim family’s humble house is filled with water due to heavy rain or earlier in the sequence where the family members go to the toilet to find better internet.

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