After the antics of The Host and before the pyrotechnics of Snowpiercer, Bong Joon Ho delivered this unsettling, low-key Korean crime thriller.
A widow lives with her son in a small Korean town. She often finds herself protecting Do-joon, who is bullied by locals. When a local schoolgirl, last seen with the boy, turns up dead, eyes quickly turn to Do-joon. But his mother ais adamant that her son could not be responsible.
Director Bong’s impeccable character study is driven by Kim Hye-ja’s superb performance as the mother. In tone, it is a chamber companion to the filmmaker’s previous Memories of Murder, particularly in the palette used by cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo. The muted tones work well in underpinning the low-key nature of this world. And like all of director Bong’s films, the film is shot through with dark humour. Arguably his least-known film since his breakthrough success with Memories, Mother ranks as one of director Bong’s best.