Mother (2009 film)

Mother (Korean마더; RRMadeo) is a 2009 South Korean thriller film directed by Bong Joon-ho, starring Kim Hye-ja and Won Bin. The plot follows a mother who, after her intellectually disabled son is accused of the murder of a young girl, attempts to find the true killer in order to get her son freed.

Mother
Mother film poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byBong Joon-ho
Produced byChoi Jae-won
Seo Woo-sik
Written byBong Joon-ho
Park Eun-kyo
StarringKim Hye-ja
Won Bin
Music byLee Byung-woo
CinematographyHong Kyung-pyo
Edited byMoon Sae-kyung
Production
companies
CJ Entertainment
Barunson
Distributed byCJ Entertainment (South Korea)
Release date
  • 16 May 2009 (2009-05-16) (Cannes)
  • 28 May 2009 (2009-05-28) (South Korea)
Running time
128 minutes
CountrySouth Korea
LanguageKorean
BudgetUS$5 million
Box officeUS$17.1 million[1]
Mother
Hangul
Revised RomanizationMadeo
McCune–ReischauerMadŏ

The film premiered on 16 May 2009 at the Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section, and was released in South Korea on May 28, 2009. It received very positive reviews from critics, who praised Kim's performance, the direction and screenplay, and the film's uniqueness.

PlotEdit

An unnamed widow lives alone with her only son, selling medicinal herbs in a small town in southern South Korea while conducting unlicensed acupuncture treatments for the town's women on the side. Her son, Yoon Do-joon, is shy, but prone to attacking anyone who mocks his intellectual disability. She dotes on him and scolds him for hanging out with Jin-tae, a local thug. When Do-joon is nearly hit by a car, he and Jin-tae vandalize the car and attack the driver and passengers as revenge. Jin-tae blames Do-joon for the damage done to the car, and Do-joon is sued. His mother struggles with the burden of the debt.

On his way home from a bar late at night, Do-joon sees a high school girl named Moon Ah-jung walking alone and follows her into an abandoned building. The next morning, she is discovered dead on the rooftop, shocking the town and pressuring the incompetent police to find the killer. Only circumstantial evidence places Do-joon near the scene of the crime, but the police arrest the boy anyway. He is tricked into signing a confession and faces a long prison sentence. His mother, believing him innocent, tries to prove he is not the murderer. However, she is unsuccessful, as the lawyer she hires is self-absorbed and unhelpful and the community unanimously blames Do-joon for the crime.

The mother breaks into Jin-tae's house and takes a golf club, which she believes has blood on it. But when she turns it over to the police and Jin-tae is confronted about it, it becomes clear that the blood is just smeared lipstick. Despite her accusation, Jin-tae agrees to help the mother solve the case—for a fee.

The mother fires her lawyer and questions the people in town about Ah-jung. They tell her she was sexually promiscuous and in a relationship with a boy known as Jong-pal, who had escaped a sanatorium.

Do-joon attacks another prisoner who calls him "moron." On one of his mother's prison visits, Do-joon recalls a memory of her attempt to kill him and then herself when he was five, by lacing their drinks with pesticide. She tries to apologize, saying she wanted to free them both from hardship and offers to give him acupuncture to forget his pain, but he tells her he never wants to see her again.

The mother learns from a camera-shop worker that Ah-jung had frequent nosebleeds. Ah-jung's friend is attacked by two young men who are looking for Ah-jung's phone, but the mother rescues her. She pays Jin-tae to interrogate the men, who claim that Ah-jung accepted rice in exchange for sex (and was nicknamed "the rice cake girl"). They say that she used her phone to secretly take pictures of her partners, thus making it a potential tool for blackmailing. The mother tracks down the phone, hidden at Ah-jung's grandmother's house.

Do-joon remembers seeing a man in the building on the night of Ah-jung's death. He identifies an elderly man from one of the pictures on Ah-jung's phone—a junk collector the mother once bought an umbrella from. She goes to his home on the pretense of offering him charity medical services and asks him about what he saw.

The junk collector ultimately reveals that Do-joon is the real killer. The junk collector had been in the abandoned building and watched the interchange between Do-joon and Ah-jung. They have a short conversation about sex, during which she throws a large rock at him. When she calls him a "moron", he throws the rock back in retaliation, inadvertently killing her. He then drags her to the rooftop in panic, thinking, as he explains later, that if he puts her there, someone will see she is hurt and help her.

The mother is horrified by the truth. When the junk collector learns that Do-joon will be released and the case reopened, he immediately picks up the phone to report Do-joon's guilt to the police. The mother, fearing for her son, bludgeons the collector with a wrench and sets fire to his house.

Later, the police tell her that they have found the "real" killer: Jong-pal, who is being presumed guilty after Ah-jung's blood was found on his shirt. The police assume it came from attempted rape, and only the mother knows that Jong-pal's story, that the blood is the result of Ah-jung's nose bleeding during consensual sex, is true. Feeling guilty, she visits Jong-pal and cries for him, knowing he is going to jail for a crime he did not commit.

Do-joon is freed from prison, and Jin-tae picks him up. They pass the junk collector's burned-down house on the way and stop to pick through the rubble. During dinner, he later muses to his mother that whoever dragged Ah-jung up to the roof was probably trying to alert others so they could help her quickly. As his mother departs for a bus station to go on a trip, Do-joon returns her acupuncture kit, which he found in the remains of the junk collector's house, and tells her to be more careful. His mother tearfully leaves, shocked by this discovery. On the bus, she sits in shock before giving herself acupuncture to forget her pain and then dances with the other passengers.

CastEdit

  • Kim Hye-ja as Mother, an unnamed widow who is extremely protective of her son and attempts to free him from a murder charge.
  • Won Bin as Yoon Do-joon,[2] the teenage son of Mother, who has an intellectual disability and is accused of the murder of a local girl.
  • Jin Goo as Jin-tae, a local ne'er do well and one of Do-joon's friends. He bosses Do-joon around but agrees to help Mother free her son.
  • Moon Hee-ra as Moon Ah-jung,[3] a young girl who is murdered, leading the police to arrest Do-joon.
  • Yoon Je-moon as Je-moon, the detective in charge of Ah-jung's murder case.
  • Jeon Mi-seon as Mi-seon, a photo worker who met with Ah-jung before she died.
  • Song Sae-byeok as Detective
  • Chun Woo-hee as Mi-na, Jin-tae's girlfriend and Do-joon's best friend.
  • Kwak Do-won as Charcoal fire man
  • Kim Jin-goo as Ah-jung's grandma
  • Lee Young-suk as Elder at junk shop

ReleaseEdit

Mother competed in the Un Certain Regard category at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.[4] Mother attracted 3,003,785 admissions nationwide and grossed a total of US$16,283,879 in South Korea, becoming the 6th most attended domestic film of 2009, and 10th overall.[5][6] The film had its U.S. premiere in February 2010 as part of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and received a limited U.S. theatrical release by Magnolia Pictures in March 2010.[7] In March 2015 the film was re-released in the US, in the Pleasantville, New York based Jacob Burns Film Center, as part of the Bong Joon-ho Retrospective with The Host, Snowpiercer and Memories of Murder.[8] The film had a black-and-white version released in 2013.[9]

Critical responseEdit

Mother received acclaim from critics, who praised the director and Kim Hye-ja's performance.[10] On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 96% based on 114 reviews, with an average rating of 7.88/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "As fleshy as it is funny, Bong Joon-Ho's Mother straddles family drama, horror and comedy with a deft grasp of tone and plenty of eerie visuals."[11] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 79 out of 100 based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[12] The film was reported to have been made with a $5 million budget and went on to be the sixth highest grossing film in South Korea in 2009.[13][14]

Top ten lists

Mother appeared on many film critics' "best-of" lists of 2010.[15]

Awards and nominationsEdit

The film was selected as South Korea's official submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards.[21]

Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
Buil Film Awards
Best Film Mother Won
Best Actress Kim Hye-ja Won
Best Cinematography Hong Kyung-pyo Won
Best Music Lee Byung-woo Won
Busan Film Critics Awards
Best Film Mother Won [22]
Best Actress Kim Hye-ja Won
Best Cinematography Hong Kyung-pyo Won
Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival
Best Actress in a Foreign Film Kim Hye-ja Won [23][24]
Grand Bell Awards
Best Film Mother Nominated [25][26]
Best Director Bong Joon-ho Nominated
Best Actress Kim Hye-ja Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Jin Goo Won
Best Cinematography Hong Kyung-pyo Nominated
Best Music Lee Byung-woo Nominated
Korean Association of Film Critics Awards
Best Film Mother Won
Best Actress Kim Hye-ja Won
Best Screenplay Bong Joon-ho, Park Eun-kyo Won
Asia Pacific Screen Awards
Best Actress Kim Hye-ja Won [27]
Best Screenplay Bong Joon-ho, Park Eun-kyo Nominated
Blue Dragon Film Awards
Best Film Mother Won [28][29]
Best Director Bong Joon-ho Nominated
Best Actress Kim Hye-ja Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Jin Goo Won
Best Screenplay Bong Joon-ho, Park Eun-kyo Nominated
Best Cinematography Hong Kyung-pyo Nominated
Best Lighting Choi Cheol-su, Park Dong-sun Won
Best Music Lee Byung-woo Nominated
Mar del Plata Film Festival
SIGNIS Award Mother Won [30]
Dubai International Film Festival
Best Film Nominated
Best Screenplay Bong Joon-ho, Park Eun-kyo Won
Chicago International Film Festival
Gold Hugo Bong Joon-ho Nominated
Women in Film Korea Awards
Best Actress Kim Hye-ja Won [31]
Director's Cut Awards
Won [32]
Nikkan Sports Film Awards
Best Foreign Picture Mother Won [33]
KOFRA Film Awards
Best Film Won [34]
Best Actress Kim Hye-ja Won
Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Best East Meets West Cinema Award Mother Won [35]
Independent Spirit Awards
Best International Film Nominated
Asian Film Awards
Best Film Mother Won [36]
Best Director Bong Joon-ho Nominated
Best Actress Kim Hye-ja Won
Best Screenplay Bong Joon-ho, Park Eun-kyo Won
Best Supporting Actor Won Bin Nominated
Best Editing Moon Sae-kyung Nominated
Baeksang Arts Awards
Best Film Mother Nominated
Best Director Bong Joon-ho Nominated
Best Screenplay Bong Joon-ho, Park Eun-kyo Nominated
Best Actor Won Bin Nominated
Best Actress Kim Hye-ja Nominated
Green Planet Movie Awards
Best Foreign Culture Film of the Year Mother Won [37]
Best International Director Bong Joon-ho Won
Best International Film Mother Won
Best International Drama (Asia) Won
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards
Best Foreign Language Film Won [38]
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards
Best Foreign Language Film Runner-up [39]
Houston Film Critics Society
Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards
Best Actress Kim Hye-ja Won [40][41]
Best Foreign Language Film Mother Runner-up
Chicago Film Critics Association
Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Awards
Best Foreign Language Film Won
Best Actress Kim Hye-ja Won
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards
Best Foreign Language Film Mother Won [42]
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association
Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society
Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Satellite Awards
Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards
Best Foreign Language Film Won
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association
Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Women Film Critics Circle
Best Foreign Film by or About Women Won
IndieWire Critics Poll
Best Film 8th place
Best Actress Kim Hye-ja 5th place
Best Screenplay Bong Joon-ho, Park Eun-kyo 5th place
Village Voice Film Poll
Best Film Mother 8th place
Best Actress Kim Hye-ja 3rd place
Munich International Film festival
Best International Film (ARRI/OSRAM Award) Mother Won
Best International Film (Arri-Zeiss-Award) Won
Saturn Awards
Best International Film Nominated
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards
Best Foreign Language Film Won [43]
Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics
Grand Prix Nominated
Chlotrudis Awards
Best Movie Nominated
Best Director Bong Joon-ho Nominated
Best Actress Kim Hye-ja Won
Best Original Screenplay Bong Joon-ho, Park Eun-kyo Won
Alliance of Women Film Journalists
Best Non-English Language Film Mother Nominated
Cultural Crossover Award Nominated
Central Ohio Film Critics Association
Best Foreign Language Film Won
Denver Film Critics Society
Won
Gold Derby Awards
Nominated
Vancouver Film Critics Circle
Nominated
International Cinephile Society
Best Film Not in the English Language 7th place
International Online Cinema Awards (INOCA)
Best Non-English Language Film Nominated
NAACP Image Awards
Outstanding Foreign Motion Picture Nominated

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Mother (2010)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  2. ^ "Won Bin's Filmography, Credits (원빈, Korean actor)". HanCinema. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  3. ^ "Moon Hee-ra's Filmography, Credits (문희라, Korean actress)". HanCinema. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  4. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Mother". Festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 17 May 2009.
  5. ^ "The Best Selling Films of 2009". Koreanfilm.org. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  6. ^ "South Korea Box Office: August 7–9, 2009". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  7. ^ "Exam and Mother Take Top Honors at Santa Barbara Film Fest". Dread Central. 16 February 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  8. ^ "New York Theater Hosting Bong Joon-ho Retrospective". Dread Central. 16 February 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  9. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (19 November 2013). "Bong Joon-Ho Unveiling Black & White Version Of 'Mother' At Mar Del Plata Film Festival". IndieWire. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  10. ^ "Bong Joon-ho's Fierce Love: Better Not Make This Mom Angry". The New York Times. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  11. ^ "Mother (Madeo) (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  12. ^ "Mother (2010) Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  13. ^ https://variety.com/2008/film/markets-festivals/won-bin-kim-hye-ja-set-for-mother-1117983743/
  14. ^ http://www.koreanfilm.org/kfilm09.html
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "2010 Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. 9 December 2010. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  16. ^ a b c d "The best films of 2010". The A.V. Club. 16 December 2010. Retrieved 25 December 2010.
  17. ^ "The 25 Best Films of 2010". Slant. 15 December 2010. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  18. ^ "Top Ten 2010". Cahiers du cinéma. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  19. ^ Lane, Anthony (7 December 2010). "Ten Films I Liked in 2010". Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  20. ^ Stevens, Dana (29 December 2010). "Wow. My Top Ten Movies of 2010". Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  21. ^ "Film Council Selects Mother for Academy Award Submission". The Chosun Ilbo. 11 August 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  22. ^ Kim, Jessica (12 October 2009). "Kim, Ha win top film critics award". 10Asia. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  23. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (6 November 2009). "Kim Hye-ja Named Best Actress in China Festival". The Korea Times. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  24. ^ "Kim Hye-ja named best actress at Chinese film fest". The Korea Herald. 6 November 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  25. ^ "Mother - Awards". Cinemasie. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  26. ^ Han, Sang-hee (8 November 2009). "Grand Bell Film Fest Puzzles Movie Fans". The Korea Times. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  27. ^ Ko, Jae-wan (27 November 2009). "Kim Hye-ja wins Best Actress at Asia Pacific awards". 10Asia. Archived from the original on 13 August 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  28. ^ "Mother Sweeps Blue Dragon Awards". The Chosun Ilbo. 3 December 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  29. ^ Kim, Jessica (3 December 2009). "Mother wins Blue Dragon gold". 10Asia. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  30. ^ Ko, Kyoung-seok (15 December 2009). "Mother wins award at Argentine film fest". 10Asia. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  31. ^ Ko, Kyoung-seok (16 December 2009). "Dir. Park Chan-ok named top female film figure of year". 10Asia. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  32. ^ Kim, Lynn (17 December 2009). "Winners of Director's CUT Awards announced". 10Asia. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  33. ^ "Mother named best foreign picture in Japan". Yonhap. 30 December 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  34. ^ Ko, Kyoung-seok (28 January 2010). "Film journalists pick Song Kang-ho, Kim Hye-ja top actors". 10Asia. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  35. ^ Ko, Kyoung-seok (18 February 2010). "Korean film Mother wins award at Santa Barbara film fest". 10Asia. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  36. ^ Landreth, Jonathan (22 March 2010). "Mother tops Asian Film Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  37. ^ Kim, Lynn (25 March 2010). "Korean pic Mother, stars win big at Green Planet Movie Awards". 10Asia. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  38. ^ Morris, Wesley (13 December 2010). "Social Network is tops with Boston Society of Film Critics". Boston.com. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  39. ^ Knegt, Peter (14 December 2010). "Social Network Tops San Francisco and Toronto Film Critics' Awards". IndieWire. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  40. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (13 December 2010). "Kim Hye-ja named best actress by LA critics". The Korea Times. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  41. ^ "Kim Hye-ja Wins Best Actress Award from L.A. Film Critics". The Chosun Ilbo. 14 December 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  42. ^ Harvey, Dennis (13 December 2010). "Network scores with San Fran critics". Variety. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  43. ^ Hong, Lucia (7 January 2011). "Mother receives honor by Kansas City Film Critics Circle". 10Asia. Retrieved 13 August 2013.

External linksEdit