Saturday, July 31, 2010

Movie: Mother (U.S. 2010)

Joe Queenan is the latest to claim that “2010 is the worst year in the history of motion pictures.” I disagree. I’d call 2010 a banner year, nay, an embarrassment of riches ... provided you’re talking about first-rate crime dramas from outside the United States. Yet another example is now on DVD.

The middle-aged title character in Mother doesn’t have a name, only a responsibility: taking care of her mentally-impaired son Do-joon. When a schoolgirl is murdered in their South Korean town and circumstantial evidence points toward Do-joon, the police are content not to look any further. His mother, however, is determined to get justice for the son to whom she has devoted her life, even if it means conducting her own investigation and angering local hoodlums. Hye-ja Kim is a powerhouse as a woman who has spread herself thin only to discover that she hasn’t come close to reaching her breaking point. Director Bong Joon-ho, now three-for-three after the cracked police procedural Memories of Murder and the monster movie The Host, has scaled down his ambitions but made his most emotionally satisfying film yet.

And for the record, Mr. Queenan, I would see The Four Amigos. There are plenty of questions the first movie didn’t answer.