Dial “M” for Mother

Sorry about the delay in updating. I’ve started a new exercise routine that’s kicking my butt. It’s depressing when I think that there are people three decades older than me with rocking bodies so, I’m trying to fix that. Plus, I’ve been inking a new comic based on this video. I’m at the part where my hand feels like it’s going to fall off and I wish that I had a desk in my apartment. But, I’m proud because it’s the first multi-panel thing I’ve ever done. Anyway, on to the movie.
How far would you go to save someone who you love? How balls to the wall crazy would you go? That’s the question asked by the 2009 Korean film Mother.
First, I’d like to say that this movie is not what it seemed.

If I recall the past correctly, there was quite a bit of hype for the movie. It was being hailed as this ground-breaking new crime thriller. While it definitely does have elements of the traditional procedural, it has a very dark humor to it that I appreciated. It’s as if Jhonen Vasquez had written Manhunter. I shouldn’t be surprised by the humor, though. Mother was directed by Bong Joon-ho who did one of my favorite creature features, The Host.
The movie stars Kim Hye-ja as the unnamed mother of Do-joon (Won Bin.) Do-joon is mentally disabled and his mother dotes on him.

She’s scraping by as a herbalist and unlicensed accupuncturist when Do-joon is accused of murdering local girl Moon Ah-jeung (Mun Hee-ra.) Do-joon has no alibi or memory of the night before and is soon imprisoned. His mother scraped together all her money for the best lawyer but when she’s ignored by the investigators, she starts investigating the case herself with the help of surprisingly sympathetic townspeople. I think to say anymore would reveal too much about the movie.
There is a twist ending but it’s done well and is quite logical. Take a note, creators of Dream House. Just because you’re working with a twist ending doesn’t mean it has to be illogical. If anything, it should be logical and should rely on manipulating the viewer’s misperceptions. Dream House‘s twist didn’t work because, if we’re to accept the premise that Will Atenton is Peter Ward, some character should have shouted, “Hey, that creep who killed his whole family is back in the neighborhood!” within the first fifteen minutes. Mother‘s twist works because it fits in with what’s been established about the characters.
The movie doesn’t just work as a procedural. It’s also beautifully shot and scored. Check out this scene, you can’t help but notice the mother’s striking red dress against the blue of background.

The music is subtle and quiet until the very end and then it works well to amp up the tension as we discover who really killed Ah-jeung.
As I mentioned, there’s a dark humor throughout the movie. Look at how Ah-jeung’s body is discovered.

It feels very strange laughing at a movie like this but I enjoyed a change in perspective, I guess. Sometimes, in the midst of sadness, things become very funny. My favorite funny scene is when the mother is summoned to meet the lawyer at a karaoke bar. She gets there and the lawyer is drunk and so are all his friends and they’re surrounded by women.

Oh, I also loved the mother’s shuffling awkward dance from the beginning.
So I’m not sure if this movie lives up to the hype but it was still a tense thriller. It doesn’t have many scary moments, except for maybe the interrogation scene at an abandoned amusement park. I guess that’s because it’s a universal law that all closed amusement parks must be terrifying. You should watch this if you’re looking for a foreign flick that’s different from other movies. An important note is that the subtitling is really good. The print was big enough that my nearsighted eyes could read comfortably. This contrasts with the shite job done on Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman, which I could barely read.


About scarina

I like scary movies a little too much. I thought I'd share my obsession with you.
This entry was posted in 21st century, crime, foreign, psychological and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Dial “M” for Mother

  1. Patrick says:

    You should come over and make comics with me!! I was reading Jessica Abel’s book “Drawing Words and Writing Pictures” and it includes a lot of exercises, but most of them are geared toward working in a group. It’s probably more fun as a group, anyway.

    • scarina says:

      Pat! You found me! That sounds really cool. The idea of group art activities kind of blows my mind. I make art so I don’t have to talk. But it also sounds terrifying. You’re wicked talented and it’s like I’m streets behind you.

  2. Patrick says:

    p.s. I have a drafting table!!

  3. Patrick says:

    If anything you are streets AHEAD (that is really catching on). We can draw in complete silence if you want, or communicate through art alone. I also signed up to this “Meet Up” group in the city that hangs out once a month to make/discuss comics. It’s a new idea for me, too, but I think it’s worth exploring.

    p.s. Community is back next week!!

    • scarina says:

      Wow, thanks! Oh, it will catch on because we use it and we’re outstanding.
      Oh, you’re one of the few people I would willingly talk to. Meetups scare me. I went to a MST3K meetup and it was cool but creepy.
      P.S. Chang will rise!

  4. Pingback: Fun Comic Time | Scarina's Scary Vault of Scariness

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