Director: Bong Joon-ho
Year : 2009
Genre: Crime | Mystery | Drama
Official Website: http://www.motherfilm.com/
Joon-ho Bong. That name would evoke “The Host”. Maybe even “Memories of Murder”. And, now Bong will be also known as the director of Madeo.
Mother is all about the unrelenting love of a mother for her child. Love, which makes her do questionable deeds. Love that makes her take on the world without any fear about the stakes; life included.
The mother, played brilliantly by Kim Hye-Ja, is an unlicensed acupuncturist who has techniques to solve various diseases, fertility included(really?). The son Do-joon is a slow amnesic, mentally challenged son in his mid twenties played by Won Bin. Throughout the movie we see references to the love and intimacy shared between the two. And it makes you wonder is this just an innocent relationship, or are there some dark undertones?
The beginning of the movie gives us a glimpse at the fogginess of the memory of Do-joon, when his friend ends up using him to steer away from all charges for damages resulting from a violent confrontation with some rich elderly folks. You feel the irony and the satire here as the poor mother and son have to now pay the rich folks who had earlier almost run over Do-joon.
Things take an abrupt turn when a school girl is found murdered, and set out for display in one of the shocking and surprising images ever seen. The police and detectives, if you can call those numb nuts that, are pressed to solve this grisly crime immediately, and arrest the son as the murderer based on circumstantial evidence.
What follows is a mother’s journey, who dons the role of an amateur detective, to prove her son’s innocence, find out the truth, and even twist it maybe. And this journey is filled with several characters each as intriguing as the other. Bong also makes efforts in his characteristic manner to throw light on the legal structure and investigation capabilities, and also highlight how cruel children can be.
Madeo is a mystery. It is a suspense drama, but the story is not very fast paced. Bong, intentionally unveils the plots and characters in a dedicated manner, giving each and every character a voice and a face that audiences will remember. That is fantastic, and it feels that almost every actor has a pivotal role. No supporting roles here.
The film is mostly shot in the countryside and its beauty is captured masterfully. No fancy effects, no CGI. Its pure and clean. The camera also takes its time staying on the faces of the characters, showing their lines, their eyes, and expressions. Bong gives us a rich full course film. And only if you slowly, deliberately enjoy each course, will you appreciate the dessert and the whole spread.
The Good: Must watch for the masterful direction by Bong Joon-ho, without him this movie would just have been another murder mystery. Of course his collaboration with Park Eun-kyo on the very clever screenplay helps greatly. Kim Hye-ja is absolutely brilliant and explains the numerous awards she received, including Best Actress at the 2010 Asian Film Award. Her opening sequence where she abruptly begins dancing in the fields will be etched in the viewers minds for a long time to come.
The Not So Good: Nothing.
The Verdict: Exceptional!
Recommendation: Watch this film a couple of times, you will love it even more as you uncover the many layers and discover some secret gems.