Though there are good supporting performances and bit parts from other actors, the title character played by Kim Hye-Ja is the movie. Like Choi Min-sik in the vaguely related OLDBOY, Kim gives a powerhouse performance, though noticeably subtler. Sheís given bursts of emotional scenes in which to shine, but the majority of MOTHER sees Mother quiet and reserved, but with a more serious presence and playful intensity behind her calm eyes. Itís a remarkable role, and one that I hope has earned Kim (who doesnít have that many credits under her belt) plenty of accolades.
The film as a whole is something of an interesting balancing act, filled with moments of suspense, drama, violence and even a couple laughs. The plot and mystery, although not new in terms of content, are masterfully handled and perfectly plotted. (It reminds me a lot of Joe Carnahanís NARC.) At over two hours everything is given room to breathe, characters are allowed to react and grow and more importantly our perspective is given adequate time to shift naturally. By the end of the movie I donít think the characters nor the audience are the same as when they started, in the best way possible.
The film is captivating, but more of a slow burn, with the second acts losing a bit of steam for a brief period. But as soon as Mother starts playing detective, things become much more intriguing and stay that way through the end. Definitely recommended for fans of cinema, and not just Asian cinema.
Making of MOTHER: This 90 minute behind the scenes doc is pretty much a feature film in itís own right. It delves in to pretty much all aspects of the production, but more importantly gives us a complete picture of how Bong Joon Ho operates as a filmmaker and what his vision and style is. We gets tons of great on-set insight and interviews with cast and crew. An amazing feature.
Music Score: The composer discusses writing the music in this 15 minute feature, specifically how the script played a big role in his themes.
A Look at Actress Kim Hye-Ja: The filmís all-star gets her due as Bong Joon Ho discusses why her hired her and how her performance still exceeded her expectations. (Mine too!)
Supporting Actors: Another 15 minute segment; this one sees Bong giving credit and attention to the filmís talented supporting cast, most of whom get overshadowed by Kim Hye Ja.
Cinematography: This 10 minute feature goes in to detail with the director and cinematographer on the technical and thematic aspects of the photography.
Production Design: Takes you from before the film started all the way until itís release and marketing strategy. About 12 minutes.
Behind The Scnes: This provides some more filming footage but seems unnecessary in the face of the longer documentary.
Extra Tidbit: My mom is Asian and Iíd like to think if I was ever wrongly convicted she would do the same thing for me.