Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mother: The Real Mater Dolorosa

The movie starts with actress Kim Hye-Ja, one of South Korea’s finest veteran actresses, dancing as if in a trance. Funny, sad, and tragic scene. It knocks on your head. You ask why? What happened?

Soon you find her in a shop as an old good-natured widow selling medicinal herbs and practising acupuncture illegally in their small town.

She has a son. Do-joon. Quiet, stupid, and mentally disabled. She lives for her beloved son. She has nothing but a small house, an honest low-paying job and small trade, but most of all, she has her son.

One day, a school girl was found dead on a rooftop of an abandoned house. Do-joon was arrested and accused for the murder.

To see the only love of her life being taken away was enough to drive her mad and hysterical.



Helpless and pitiful in front of the law and justice, she tried to hire an expensive lawyer and persuade friends in the police force that her son is innocent and incapable of doing such crime. Nobody was there to help her.

She was poor. She had nothing but she had to do something.

Her tenacity and love for her son pushed her to do her own investigation.

The clues she gathered led her to an old man who was working in an old junkyard. She visited him, pretending to be a social worker offering free acupuncture therapy.

The old man welcomed her and narrated how he saw Do-joon the night when the girl was murdered and gestured something that was usually done by Do-joon when he’s frustrated. At the drop of that hint, the mother was horrified.

Did he really do it? Did my son kill the girl? What am I supposed to do?

She grabs a wrench, killed the old man, the only possible witness to the crime, and burned down the junkyard.

Later on, the police went to her and reported that they have caught the alleged killer. Do-joon was released from prison.

The film ends with the mother dancing again. This time she was on a bus for a vacation. She administers acupuncture to herself by puncturing a needle on a certain part of her leg.

She stood up and danced again. Void. Oblivious. Mad.

This is the film which received Un Certain Regard at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, another masterpiece by Korean cinema master Bong Joon-ho.

It’s poignant and tragic, spine-tingling, humorous and sad, all at the same time. A movie that everybody must see- especially hysterical mothers.

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