Plot: What’s it about?
Mother (Kim Hye-Ja) lives a quiet lifestyle as an herbalist and acupuncturist, operating out of her own home that she shares with her son Do-joon (Won Bin). Although he is almost thirty years old, Do-joon still lives with his mother due to a mental illness that impairs his memory. She is a single parent and while her son causes her a lot of trouble, he is her world. He has gotten into scrapes with the law before, but now he faces a most serious accusation. A young woman has been found murdered, a young woman he was seen with just before she vanished. Thanks to a sub par lawyer and rushed trial, Do-joon is convicted of the woman’s murder, though Mother is certain he is innocent. If the police won’t uncover the truth, Mother is determined to do so herself. But as she delves into the darkness around the case, will she find more than she ever expected?
This is an excellent movie. While most of the films these days are content to be simple remakes or rely on untalented star power, Mother proves that good cinema is still possible. The film is carried by Kim Hye-Ja, who shines in this role and delivers a powerful turn that keeps you locked to the screen. The emotional depth in her performance is beyond impressive, especially in the scenes that showcase the mother/son dynamic. A lot of performers go over the top in a role like this, but Kim Hye-Ja nails it and deserves immense praise for her work here. The plot is intense, but the filmmakers lean more on atmosphere than violence. The content is still potent and even disturbing, but that’s because of how real the emotion seems. The visuals work well also, thanks to great production design and cinematography. In short, Mother is a superb movie that packs a memorable punch. So if you’re tired of all flash and no substance, Mother is highly recommended.
Video: How does it look?
Mother is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This looks excellent, giving us the visual presentation just as the filmmakers intended. The dark visuals remain stark and often cloaked in shadows, but detail is strong where it should be. No issues with contrast whatsoever, which is crucial given the dark visual approach. The colors don’t always shine, but they look as they should and when called for, the hues peek out. Just a terrific visual effort in all respects.
Audio: How does it sound?
The original Korean soundtrack is preserved in a DTS HD 5.1 option. This is more drama than action driven, but the audio still provides an impressive experience. The music sounds superb, the surrounds bolster atmosphere to great impact, and when needed, there is ample power. You might not rave about the track like you would a summer blockbuster, but this is a well handled, highly effective soundtrack. This disc also includes English and Spanish subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Making of Mother is a robust feature length look behind the scenes that runs about 90 minutes. This piece shows us how Mother moved from concept to finished product, with little detail spared. You’ll hear from key players on both sides of the camera, as well as see a good amount of on the set footage. Additional featurettes put the spotlight on the musical score, the supporting cast, the production design, and the lead actress. So if it wasn’t in the main documentary, whatever you want to know is bound to be one of the other supplemental offerings. This disc also includes two of the film’s theatrical trailers.