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Reviews & Ratings for
Mother More at IMDbPro »Madeo (original title)

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87 out of 96 people found the following review useful:

No idea this film would end up the way it did (and I'm not telling)

10/10
Author: sitenoise from http://sitenoise-atthemovies.blogspot.com/
30 September 2009

It's too bad that because this film is ostensibly about an old lady it must be considered a "smaller" film in Bong's oeuvre. It's not. It is every bit as brilliant, and as large, as Memories of Murder, in my opinion.

In many ways this is the natural, and equal, follow-up to Memories of Murder. It's every bit the caper film that one was, and, although slightly more somber in tone, the film keeps unraveling in directions you don't expect making it much more a plot driven movie than a character study. Kim Hye-ja is, however, magnificent as the titular (gawd I hate that word but I'm using it anyway) mother. There is a scene in this film where she tells the family of the victim her son didn't do it and her eyes are so electrically charged it made me jump back from the screen. Mother fires on all cylinders. The direction, cinematography, script, and acting are all grade A. It's one of those films where each of the secondary characters steals the show for a brief period. (How 'bout that cop who kicks the apple from Won Bin's mouth?) Bong does a remarkable job of populating the world of this film with real people and manages to give them depth and development in a very short period of time. I confess to having a little trouble tracking the other female characters in the film, but no matter. There is a scene (without spoiling anything here) where Kim Hye-ja asks the other 'retarded' kid if he has a mother and it's one of the most complex and heart-rending scenes in cinematic history. Hyperbole notwithstanding, just freakin' WOW! on that one when you ponder just why she is crying.

I wasn't sure where Bong was going to end up going as a film maker. Barking Dogs Never Bite was a reasonable debut. Memories of Murder, a masterpiece. But was it a lucky shot? I'm glad I don't have to consider the dismal Antarctic Journal a Bong film if I don't want to. The Host was lots-o-fun, but that's the one that worried me. Maybe he was going to start making blockbuster type films. But now, after recently seeing his contribution to Tokyo!, and now Mother, I have every reason to believe he is going to kick my butt with interesting film for a long time.

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51 out of 56 people found the following review useful:

Seeking the Truth

8/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
18 May 2010

In a province in Pusan, South Korea, the slow Yoon Do-joon (Bin Won) is a young man overprotected by his mother (Hye-ja Kim) that works with acupuncture and herbs and does not like his worthless and reckless friend Jin-tae (Goo Jin). When a Mercedes runs over Do-joon, Jin-tae follows the hit-and-run driver with Do-joon and find the car parked in a golf club. Jin-tae breaks the side mirror of the car and Do-joon collects golf balls lost in a lake. When they see the cart with the driver and passengers of the Mercedes, there is a fight and they end in the police station. During the night, Do-joon walks to the bar Manhattan to meet Jin-tae that does not arrive; when Do-joon returns home, he sees the easy Moon Ah-jung (Mun-hee Na) walking alone in an alley and entering in an abandoned house. On the next morning, Ah-jung is found dead on the terrace of the house. The incompetent detectives find a golf ball near her body and they conclude that Do-joon is the killer. Doo- joon is arrested; signs a confession and is charged of murder. However, his mother follows her instincts believing that her son is innocent and the scapegoat of the incompetent police department and seeks the truth disclosing a dreadful reality.

"Madeo" is an original and dramatic South Korean thriller that has an engaging story with a surprising plot point and many twists. The director Joon-ho Bong of "Gwoemul" makes a simple but effective film with a credible story of a single woman that does everything possible and impossible to prove the innocence of her son that is slow probably because he was poisoned when he was five. The performance of Hye-ja Kim deserves a nomination to the Oscar in the role of a dedicated loving mother that pursues the truth about the murder of a teenager student. With the exception of one review of a user that probably has difficulties to read subtitles; the nine wins, six nominations and the favorable reviews of twenty-three IMDb users are practically an unanimous indication that "Madeo" is a great film indeed. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Mother - A Busca Pela Verdade" ("Mother – Seeking the Truth")

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43 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

well, a boy's best friend is his mother.... no, not that kind of mother, but close

10/10
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
13 March 2010

Joon-Ho Bong is one of the most exciting and wonderful storytellers coming out of Asia today. With Mother, he joins with Chanwook Park as being one of THE young South Korean directors to see - by that I mean anything they put out. Bong's work is layered with the skill of comedy and drama, both often so dark and thick that you can put your hand in and not feel the bottom. His previous film The Host showed his talent at making a 'popular' entertainment, a monster blockbuster that actually gave characters to care about while action and terror ensued. But this time he returns to his second feature, Memories of Murder, in crafting a murder mystery that is ultimately, in the sense of the details of the story, hopeless, but carries so much joy and passion in its making that I left elated by the performances and cinematography.

It is, from the look of the premise, pretty simple stuff. A kid who is sort of 'simple' (not really retarded, just slower than the rest of the pack with a bad memory) is charged with a murder of a teenage girl found hanging over a rooftop. He says he didn't do it, or at least doesn't think he did, and his mother believes him. But finding out what happened won't be easy, and the police (as in Memories of Murder) just want the confession quick, which they get from Do-joon's misunderstanding, and move along to the next case. So, the Mother goes on a mystery, like a detective first tracking his shady golf-hustler friend, then going on to who this girl who died actually was, what her connections were, who, if anyone, saw what happened when her son stumbled home drunk that fateful night.

All of the details, seemingly straightforward. It's all in the presentation of the details, and it's this how Bong sets himself apart as an original: taking elements of film-noir and Greek tragedy, of a mother trying to save her son, and by proxy herself, and warding off the "chorus" of a strange and untrustworthy townsfolk who shun her after the incident. Oh, and like in other Bong films there's some touches of pitch black humor- watch for that interrogation scene of the teenage punk on the ferris wheel, or how that crazy hit-and-run happens at the start of the film- but it's either subtle or pronounced so large that one almost puts it down to hysterics. But while Bong navigates the black-comic elements well, it's his skill as a Hitchcock-cum-Chabrol idolizer that makes it a must-see.

This is suspenseful film-making, from the overall arc of finding out the details of the crime, to little moments that are just suffocating. Take when the Mother goes to search the complex lowlife Jin-Tae's place to find possible proof that he committed the murder. She has to hide in the closet when he comes in (Blue Velvet much?), and watch as Jin-Tae and his girlfriend have sex. Later, she has to exit ever so slightly, and knocks over a water bottle. Every second of this counts, and it's thanks to Bong's trust in the view to be lead along, and go for the tension, that makes it work.

Other things that make the film so exceptional are more technical, and emotional. The performances by Hye-ja Kim and Bin Won are moving for how they appear to be, then little by little how they show who they are, and more importantly what they're capable of. The final reel of the film shows the characters, and by proxy the actors, having to go through some rough motions, and a twist that makes Oldboy look, well, almost on-par in comparison. Kim is sensitive, tough, smart, but also knowing of this Mother's faults as a person, that she may have a little of the 'simple' side of her own son, and the secret her character carries, when reveals, is shocking. And Bin, playing a simple kid with some deep-rooted problems (and, of course, never call the character 'retard'), makes him human and relatable, or as Kirk Lazarus might put it "half-retard".

The cinematography, lastly, is a knockout. Scenes like the opening image of the Mother in a field doing an unlikely dance to the diegetic music, and then how the DoP manages between light and dark in those night scenes, or the subtle scenes like when the lawyer has the Mother at a drinking party that goes sour fast, are just beautiful and strange to look at. This may, too, be a credit to Bong as a director. Again, following along on his previous films, he grows as a patient storyteller, ready to let the details or action of a scene go slowly, but also ready to let the actors take things to BIG emotional plateaus. It should be noted that Mother does go into some melodramatic beats, sometimes very heavily, but it's never at a cheap shot or angle. Mother is a harrowing film that treats its characters seriously, but also gives time here and there to observe how awfully bizarre some of it is. It's one of the best of the year.

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47 out of 59 people found the following review useful:

One of the darkest, most evil characters in movie history, lovingly portrayed

10/10
Author: zken from United States
29 March 2010

Film loves evil, the vile, the inept, the perverse and the innocent defamed. All of this is in the brilliant film "Mother". One of the greatest faults of Hollywood is the complete omission of this type of character (I can't reveal who), and this amazingly scripted piece of horrific, monstrous human behavior takes tremendous advantage of the fact that WESTERN film makers lack the guts to do this story. It helps American viewers that both the setting (a small town in Korea) and the actors (complete unknowns to this viewer) all create a clean slate for us to experience this level of depravity and pure and utter darkness of the human spirit. I just saw Chloe, and believe it or not, the films are similar. Both use a strange and mundane setting. Both films dig deep into the hollow lives of these characters, bereft of love and even the most elemental human contact and affection in their lives. And both films point out the sheer perversity of the modern human spirit searching for this love we all dare to desire. Nothing is missing from this absolutely brilliant tour de force of human rendering that will leave you in disgust and awe. After all, what are movies for? If you don't want to feel the fear and trembling of this kind of human tragedy, we should all just sit home. This movie is a masterpiece.

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40 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

Hilarious and insightful mystery, an emotional cornucopia

9/10
Author: oOgiandujaOo from United Kingdom
24 October 2009

Bong manages to capture some of the poignancy of motherhood in his film Mother, which concerns an elderly single mother (played by Hye-ja Kim) and her son Yoon Do-joon (played by Bin Won). Do-joon is mentally disabled, he has a low intelligence and seems to have problems with his memory. His mother is absolutely devoted to her son. Bong throws light on that extraordinary capacity of some women to totally subjugate their own lives to those of their children, who live for the pep that they get seeing often unappreciative family members troughing their way through their latest offering.

Do-joon is framed up fairly early on by the police for a murder that they can't really be bothered to investigate thoroughly. So mum is on the case, you'd better believe it! This involves for example bringing in drinks for all the members of the detective bureau on a visit to the precinct. There's a lot of tragedy in the movie, but it's offset by a comedy that is at times is almost outrageous in it's manipulativeness, Bong's really being directly provocative at times (though not in a salacious sense)! There's a grand surreal scene at one point where he convinces you that a very minor character is going to perform a deeply uncanny suicide, and then something totally banal happens instead. One of my favourite scenes is a scene on a golf course where a shot dollys across to some action taking place in sugar-white bunkers, which would not be out of place in a Fellini movie.

Bong was playing with my emotions throughout, he set up affiliations between me and other characters only to subvert them or rebuild them later, he builds scenes to emotional explosiveness just for the sake of it. The film leaves you emotionally confused at times, Bong's smashing all the buttons on the telephone, and so you don't really know what number is being dialled. The effect is deliberate.

Bottom line I think it's a celebration of motherhood, but it's not sugar-coated, it's really warts and all. Congratulations Mr Bong!

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38 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

Intense, witty, and engaging

9/10
Author: Howard Schumann from Vancouver, B.C.
4 October 2009

After a night of drinking, Do Joon (Bin Won), an intellectually-challenged young man, encouraged by his reckless buddy Jin-tae (Ku-jin), attempts to pick up a young high school girl Ah-jung walking home alone. Shockingly, the next day, Do Joon is arrested for the girl's murder as his mother looks on helplessly. Seen at the Vancouver Film Festival, Bong Joon-ho's Mother is an intelligent, suspenseful, and darkly comic revelation of the lengths to which an overbearing but deeply loving mother will go to pursue justice for her son who, she believes, has been wrongly convicted of murder.

Though there is an evocative score by Lee Byeong-woo, the film's use of ambient sounds such as the slashing of Hye-ja's herb chopper and the rustling of leaves add to an ominous mood, though it often clashes with the absurdist events seen on screen. Set in a small Korean town, the elderly mother, played by Korean TV star Kim Hye-ja in one of the most nuanced and emotive performances of the year, makes a living by selling herbal medicine and providing illegal acupuncture treatments. Convinced of her son's innocence, she will stop at nothing, even violence, to find the real killer. She learns details about the dead girl's personal life and talks to alternative suspects, even though even she is not fully prepared for the twists and turns that her investigation will take.

The film opens with a shot of a lone elderly woman walking in a vast expanse of open field, reminiscent of the opening shot in Shunji Iwai's All About Lily Chou Chou. As she approaches the camera, the background music becomes rhythmic and the woman begins a strange, almost provocative dance. The scene then shifts to her business where she is keeping a close eye on her 27-year-old son Do-Joon who she feels needs her constant protection. Playing in the street with a dog, the boy is knocked over by a speeding hit and run driver in a Mercedes-Benz.

Uninjured, Do-Joon and Jin-tae chase the car to a golf course where the two attack the drivers of the Benz with sticks while collecting numerous golf balls, later to be used in evidence in court. On the fateful night, after Do-Joon is thrown out of a bar for being drunk, he pursues Ah-Jung home and the next day is arrested for murder, although details of what happened are murky. Bong shows the police procedural as in Memories of Murder to be on the lackadaisical side and conveys the impression that everyone involved is only out for their self-interest, including police, lawyers, friends, junk dealers, and schoolgirls.

Reminiscent of the quirky, offbeat films of Alfred Hitchcock, Mother is an intense, witty, and engaging psychological thriller with enigmatic characters that do not just populate the screen but are vitally alive. In one outstanding scene that will etch itself forever in your memory, Hye-ja attends the funeral of the girl her son is alleged to have murdered. Although besieged by distraught family members who think her son is a murderer, she has the fortitude to look them in the eye and proclaim "my son could never do something like that". Although "barking dogs don't bite", this woman is one "mutha" of an exception.

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33 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

A slow burning thriller that rewards the viewer

8/10
Author: Jurguens from Australia
3 August 2009

Yoon Do-Joon has an intellectual disability. His friend is a bit of a trouble maker. His mother is always worried about him and protective to the extreme. A young girl is murdered and the lazy police of this small Korean town blame the obvious and helpless Yoon Do-Joon. The police interrogate him and make him sign a confession but Yoon Do-Joon is not really aware that he is signing his entry to prison. The mother, confident about her son's innocence will investigate the case and will go to any extent to free her son.

After the success of The Host (2006), Joon-ho Bong has crafted an intimate slow burning thriller with suspense elements that is contained in a small town, with small characters, but has a great scope. This movie is more similar to his first two movies, which I highly recommend. Hye-ja Kim is excellent as the mother. Her performance is understated but at the same time intense, cold and at the same time powerful. The cinematography is beautiful. The film moves along and builds slowly, more akin to the tempo of the small town we're visiting for the duration of the film, but the twists, turns, and suspense make it a highly rewarding and satisfying ride.

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54 out of 81 people found the following review useful:

A Movie Forced to write My First ever Review,,In my Top 3 always

10/10
Author: AsgharDdude . (asgharzafar4@hotmail.com) from Pakistan
20 March 2010

Only a film seen so much perfect was 'The Shawsank Redemption' back in 1995.

Its amazingly focused, awesomely directed and what a heavenly story!, i have seen a lot of twist and turn movies (most of them gets boring in the middle)but this is something out of here..u will admire every scene!

I loved 'Shawsank Redemption and The Dark Knight' didn't find time to give them ratings but this movie forced me to give it a Review 10/10 in IMDb. And by the way if this Movie would have been made by Hollywood, it would have got Oscar, but it got only 8.1/10 in IMDb because its Asian, come on Americans??? Sorry for my grammar

Just Watch ! Definitely Recommended !!

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20 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

An extra-loyal mom

8/10
Author: Chris Knipp from Berkeley, California
1 October 2009

Bong Joon-ho's new film is built around actors. The starting point of it is Kim Hye-ja, 'grande dame' of Korean acting (around whom the screenplay by Bong and Park Eun-kyo is built), who gets a chance to break away from the long-suffering, boundlessly loving mother image she maintains in the long-running "Rustic Diary" TV series to embrace a juicier, darker, richer role. Likewise Won Bin, whose pretty-boy looks have gotten him gangster and perfect son casting, here becomes the slack-jawed, unpredictable Do-joon, a "retard," not taken seriously by most of the town, but zealously protected by his apothecary mom (Kim), who even sleeps in the same bed with him, though he's 27. Both the mother's and son's roles are challenging. Kim Hye-ja shows an incredible emotional range within a de-glamorized exterior, and Won Bin subtly side-steps dumb-guy shtick, managing to keep Do-joon lastingly unpredictable and mysterious.

Do-joon has a run-in with the police after he and his friend Jin-tae (Jin Gu) hassle some fat cats at the golf club after one of them hits Do-joon with his Mercedes and doesn't stop. Simple Do-joon brags about being at the police station, but then gets drunk, brooding about the way Jin-tae ribs him for being a virgin and wanting to get laid. Then that same night Ah-jong, a schoolgirl, is found with her head bashed in and Do-joon becomes the prime suspect. His case seems hopeless, but his aging mother, convinced that Do-joon would never hurt a fly, takes it upon herself to conduct her own investigation of the case, which neither the cops nor the fancy lawyer she has engaged are interested in. This story carries its mother-son relationship well beyond the usual. There is no extent to which this mom won't go to protect and exonerate her son, and some of the memories that are dredged up are troubling indeed.

In some aspects 'Mother' reaches back to Bong's 2003 '80's-set police procedural 'Memories of Murder,' particularly to its sensitive development of a small-town milieu. But this film is also full of comic aspects like the director's later international success 'The Host' (2006, also a NYFf selection). The focus on mysterious, isolated people relates to the main character in Bong's top-drawer segment of the 2008 'Tokyo!' trilogy, "Shaking Tokyo." Cell phone cameras, autographed golf balls, and acupuncture also play key roles in the story, which is full of interesting twists and turns. A major turnaround comes from Do-joon's bad-boy friend Jin-tae, whose true role we have no idea of at first.

Bong explodes the image of the ideal mother and as usual, bends genres in this new effort. At times this might seem a twisted psychological thriller with links to Douglas Sirk and Sam Fuller, and the occasionally old-fashioned movie music by Lee Byeong-woo, traditionally surging at key points, reinforces that impression. Ryu Seong-hie, the production designer, has worked extensively with Park Chan-wook, and d.p. Hong Gyeong-pyo does a superb job in integrating the looks of a wide variety of locations. This is highly sophisticated Korean cinema at its technical best.

We can't possibly reveal the outcome: the essence of 'Mother' is that its plot is packed with surprises. Perhaps indeed there are a few too many: the last ten minutes introduce further twists after the surprise climax that might better have been omitted. For all the great look, terrific acting, and explosive plot twists, I'm not sure this is up to the best of Bong Joon-ho's previous work. It's fun and entertaining especially at the outset and watchable throughout, but Bong and Park's screenplay meanders a bit. The film's inclusion in the 2009 New York Film Festival may owe more to timing, to the bloom that's still upon Korean cinema, and to Bong's status as an alumnus of the festival, than to the film's intrinsic merit. (Hong Sang-soo, a NYFF favorite, despite a new film that's received raves, is omitted this year. His 2008 NYFF Paris-based entry was somewhat lackluster. . .)

Bong's 'Mother'/'Madeo' was included in the "Un Certain Regard" series at Cannes, and shown as part of the New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center 2009.

_________________

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23 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

A Nutshell Review: Mother

8/10
Author: DICK STEEL from Singapore
31 December 2009

If you're familiar with Bong Joon-ho's works, then Mother comes without surprise at how he deftly weaves a story about mother's love into a mystery thriller that will keep you guessing every step of the way, with enough emotional firepower to twist a knot in your stomach when the truth gets played out. It's a standard three act structure here where the first hour establishes the strong family bonds between Mother (Kim Hye-Ja) and child Yoon Do-Joon (Won Bin), bordering quite close to being incestuous (but this is glossed over since we're dealing with a man-child here), before they key murder scene beocmes the catalyst for Mother to do some serious investigations work in order to prove her son's innocence, given that the perverted justice system provided that bad after-taste.

I particularly enjoyed the epilogue, which ties in with the inexplicable opening credits which made more sense once you've come full circle at the end. It's the classic mantra of two wrongs never making one right, and how in the protection of loved ones, one will resort to extreme measures that blind common, good sense, and become a "rather you than me" syndrome, which I believe every one of us are capable of if we find ourselves pushed to a corner with no where to run. Bong Joon-Ho is again at his element in unravelling the investigations process, which ties in black comedy with painful, dramatic moments, being evenly paced with heightened tension at appropriate moments.

And kudos of course must go to actress Kim Hye-Ja, who almost single-handedly carried the film on her own, since Won Bin disappears mid-way through. Her single mom, with so much affection for her son, just dazzles and makes it convincing that she's been that single pillar of strength and shelter for her son when he gets up to shenanigans brought about by no good company of his. It's not the first time Do-Joon got himself into a fix, given the strange mannerisms he's been taught to try and jog his memory, and Won Bin showcases his acting chops as the dim-witted boy whose disability gets frequently exploited, coming off as endearing at times, so much so that you're quick to judge and side with him as a victim of circumstances, being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Mother is definitely recommended stuff, especially if you're a Bong Joon-Ho fan as he delivers yet another powerful film that will leave plenty of post-screening discussion.

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