Take a Drink: for anything remotely incestuous
Take a Drink: for questionable policing tactics
Take a Drink: for any discussion of the sexual habits of the mentally infirm
Take a Drink: for golf
Take a Drink: for “idiot” or “retard”
Take a Drink: for acupuncture
Do a Shot: for spreading pools of liquid
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Last year saw three of Korea’s greatest directors tackled their first English-language films: Park Chan-wook (Stoker), Kim Ji-hoon (The Last Stand), and Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer– which hit U.S. theaters this year). All are interesting, if uneven efforts, but the clear success of the bunch was the last, which I think is due to the genre flexibility Bong Joon-ho has shown throughout his career. He’s tried crime (Memories of Murder), horror (The Host), and comedy (Barking Dogs Never Bite), so what’s a foreign-language scifi flick to him?
Just let Tilda Swinton put her scenery-chewing teeth in, sit back, and relax.
Mother, while it does have some crime elements, might be his most dramatic film, though. In it Kim Hye-ja stars as a single mother with an overly close relationship with her adult, mentally impaired son Do-joon (Won Bin). When he is accused of a horrible crime, she’ll stop at nothing to vindicate himand find the real perpetrator.
Regardless of the genre Bong Joon-ho’s working in, you know that he will deliver a handsomely shot and produced film. He and DP Hong Kyung-pyo outdo themselves with Mother, as their off-kilter eye for framing work with the idiosyncratic shot selection and editing and unconventional pace to create a film where tragedy, brutality, and an odd, dark sense of humor interact naturally and in surprising ways.
The style suits the gradually but powerfully building mystery of the plot perfectly, pulling you into it with escalating, incredibly tense setpieces then delivering a devastating conclusion- evil begets evil, or more accurately, damage begets damage. The sins of the past are never far from the surface, and in turn create the sins of today, and tomorrow.
A last raise of the glass to how much nostalgia for Korea this film provoked in me. It does a great job of creating a fully inhabited environment and highlighting those little things that make Korea so unique, from noraebangs (singing rooms) to samgyetang (chicken ginseng soup) to the little bottles of health drinks passed out at workplaces by little old ladies because… I still don’t know.
I miss you.
The only slight weakness in Mother is its acting, which isn’t quite up to par with the high standards of the rest of the production. Hong isn’t bad, but you can see the actor at work in his performance, and his disabilities are exaggerated. Even more over the top at points is , who resorts to hysterics and overblown facial expressions rather often. It’s a bold choice, and I can’t even call it a bad one exactly, but a drink will help you bear it.
Here’s to you, Mrs. Motherinson.
Mother is an exceedingly well-made, sneakily powerful film from one of the masters of Korean cinema.