Sang-Woo (Lee Sang-Woo ) is a HIV positive 38-year-old man who lives in a small shed with his mother ( Lee Yong- Nyeo ). His mother at the age of 60 began working as a prostitute to support...
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Sang-Woo (Lee Sang-Woo ) is a HIV positive 38-year-old man who lives in a small shed with his mother ( Lee Yong- Nyeo ). His mother at the age of 60 began working as a prostitute to support herself and her son out of their small shed. Meanwhile, Sang-Woo works as her pimp - collecting payment and arranging appointments with his cellphone. Their clients include a paraplegic man and soldiers on holiday. Living through their difficult situation, Sang-Woo still carries a strong bond with his mother. Sang-Woo also harbors intense anger within. His father (Kwon Bum-Taek ) abandoned them and then remarried into a seemingly normal family. But actually, his father married a woman (Kim Ji-Hee ) who is a religious fanatic and their son (Jung Tae-Won ) always locks himself away in his room. Sang- Woo often meets their daughter (his step-sister) for drinks outside of a Buddhist temple. Can Sang-Woo ever find a way out for himself and his mother? Written by
Sometimes, bombastic film title doesn't correlate with the actual content. But here, expect straight to point, sickening, heavy taboo drama.
Sang woo lives in a slum with his disabled mother who works as a prostitute in order to provide for both of them. So, we have 60 year old prostitute and her pimp son with AIDS. That is one part of the story. Another part of family psychopathology is Sang Woo's biological father who had left them and started new life with young mother of two teens - his new wife is incidentally religious fanatic to boot.
Compared to life Sang and his mother lead this family looks normal: living in middle class apartment, father owns his own business, and appears to be stand up guy. But, his step son is hikkomori, step daughter hates her family, seeks solace in alcohol and appears infatuated with Sang Woo.
Never expect normalcy in this film. Director Sang Woo Lee (also playing main character here) is hellbent on ripping family values, human decency to shreds, and if that doesn't do it, feed those shreds to pigs. Not the most graphic, but hard hitting film you'll have trouble getting out of your head: what has been seen cannot be unseen type of deal. Violence is not ever-present, but when it is, it's devastating. While waiting for another outburst or violent episode to happen, there's grim, bleak and depressing atmosphere throughout that makes your breathing stop at times. So much misery here!
Sang Woo Lee looks to be following Kim Ki Duk's footsteps, but taking matters to further extremes. To those with strong stomach, I recommend this heartbreaking film and pay attention to its director: he ain't done destroying humanity and family ideals just yet: Mother is a Whore is first part of his Family trilogy. The other two (especially latest one) promise even bleaker picture and more (in)human drama which just might kill your spirit for a spell if you let your guard down. Actually, forget defense mechanisms, it most definitely will.
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