Screened as part of NZIFF 2009

Mother 2009


Directed by Bong Joon-ho

A mother’s campaign to clear her good-for-nothing son of a murder becomes a superb murder mystery in the expert hands of Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Memories of Murder). With Kim Hye-ja, Won Bin.

129 minutes 35mm / CinemaScope



Seo Woo-sik
Park Tae-joon


Park Eun-kyo
Bong Joon-ho


Hong Kyung-pyo


Moon Sae-kyoung

Production designer

Ryu Seong-hie


Lee Byeong-woo


Kim Hye-ja (mother)
Won Bin (Do-joon)
Jin Ku (Jin-tae)


Cannes (Un Certain Regard) 2009


In the hands of Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Memories of Murder), the story of a mother’s campaign to clear her good-for-nothing son of a murder charge continually refuses to go where you think it should be going. As the mother stands up to attorney incompetence and an overeager police department and mounts her own investigation, Bong divulges his Hitchcockian twists and turns and changes of tone with awesome assurance. Actress Kim Hye-ja, one of the national treasures of Korean TV, subverts her apparently lovable overbearing persona to startling effect. — BG

“Bong starts out playing by the rules of a whodunit, but then bends them when the solution of the mystery comes earlier than we expect, setting up Mom’s solution to the solution. As it becomes steadily clearer that she’ll stop at nothing to save her pride and joy, Mother evolves into a deadpan variant on Psycho… The movie’s wit is terrifically dry, and I could swear there isn’t one misjudged shot or trite performance in it.” — Tom Carson, GQ

“Bong Joon-ho, in South Korea, is making the movies Hollywood should be making – formally precise and inventive, slyly engaging but never overturning popular genres, directed with sincerity and assurance, juggling tones with vitality, focused on the down and out losers of the world, and telling their stories with a high degree of sophistication and entertainment… Mother is clearly dedicated to actress Kim Hye-ja and runs her down a remarkably crazy path with a truly wondrous and strange finale at its end.” — Daniel Kasman, The Auteurs