I was very lucky to attend an advance screening of South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho’s latest film MOTHER at the Landmark Embarcadero Theater in San Francisco.
Bong also directed the 2006 hit, THE HOST, which re-invented the “monster movie” genre.
MOTHER is a crime thriller that has echoes of Bong Joon-Ho’s other films, in its depiction of unusual, even exaggerated family dynamics, social misfits, and a subversive wit. The story follows the attempts of a single mother to track down the true killer of a neighborhood girl after the mother’s mentally handicapped son is arrested for the murder on circumstantial evidence by lazy and corrupt police officers. Bong’s aesthetic is wholly his own, but the closest Western comparison I can think of is the Coen Brothers’ crime movies, such as BLOOD SIMPLE and FARGO.
The lead actress, Kim Hye-ja, gives an amazing performance as the increasingly desperate mother. She won numerous acting awards for this film in Asia, where she is famous for playing far gentler characters.
The director stayed for a Q&A after the film. He was quite charming. He said he was more afraid watching the film with his own mother than he was watching it with the audience at the Cannes Film Festival. And he still hasn’t worked up the nerve to ask his mother what she thought of his movie!
I was very excited to be able to get Bong Joon-ho’s autograph.
It’s a very intense movie with a complex plot. I hope it gets distribution in America. Bong Joon-ho’s films are part of the ever-hot “Korean Wave,” the term used to describe the popularity of Korean movies, singers, soap operas, etc. throughout East Asia.
This showing was sponsored by the San Francisco Film Society and CAAM–Center for Asian American Media.