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Review: The Mother

The power of maternal love
By PETER KEOUGH  |  March 22, 2010
3.5 3.5 Stars

A girl is found murdered in this latest effort from Korean director Bong Joon-ho, and the police, at a loss, pin the blame on Do-joon (Bin Won), a childlike local with not much going on upstairs, alternately brutalizing and bamboozling him into a confession. But they don’t count on the power of maternal love.

Do-joon’s mother (Kim Hye-ja) knows her boy is innocent, and she sets out on an investigation of her own. In the course of her crusade, she reveals the rottenness behind the façade of propriety, and she demonstrates that the primal bonds of blood are far more resilient, and ruthless, than the protocols of the powers that be.

In Mother, Bong synthesizes not only a host of generic conventions but also the elements unique to Bong himself: mentally disabled scapegoats, victimized women, bureaucratic stupidity, suspicious vagabonds, umbrellas. It’s the finest work yet by a filmmaker who knows how to turn the toxins poisoning our lives into a figment of savage power and delight.

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