Where to start with Mother? During my intense viewing experience I was astounded by Mother‘s multi-layered narrative where characterisation and plot twists have striking effects.
In an unsettling story Madeo (Kim Hye-ja) and her son Do-joon (Won Bin) live in societies’ bare margins. She is under pressure to keep her workplace in order while Do-joon clearly suffers mental health problems and easily mislead by his ‘friend’ Jin-tae (Jin Goo). These factors make the pair looked down upon by their neighbours. If social stigma wasn’t enough Do-joon becomes the primary suspect in a local murder case. So begins the catalyst of Mother‘s multiple layers unfolding.
There is no singular viewpoint Mother takes. Instead every character (of significance) has their pros and cons revealed to make one question their motivations. Are social perceptions coming into play? Is there an element of denial covering up the truth? Where does the guilt really lie? Mother is no holds barred experience where perspectives are challenged.
As Madeo leads her own investigation into the murder case, more personality traits are revealed. If casting Kim Hye-ja was a conscious choice regarding her small stature, frailty and advanced age during filming then the casting director was correct. Naturally seeing an older woman fight against the odds provides a sense of weakness on her part but Hye-ja’s conviction of vulnerability as Madeo is manipulated by Jin-tae into exchanging money to prove Do-joon’s innocence lends sympathy towards her plight. Though Madeo’s cryptic nature slowly became exposed only emphasising Mother‘s dynamic narrative.
Mother is definitely a note-worthy film for those seeking serious drama and complicated characterisations that provided compelling insights and twists.