Monday, 26 October 2009

London Film Festival: Mother

The London Film Festival trundles on like a great big convoy of films driving through the middle of London honking their airhorns and leaving behind a choking fug of reviews all saying much the same thing. In today’s case that’s especially accurate, because I saw Mother, another slightly unhinged Korean film, the day after I saw Thirst (see Friday’s post), and I can pretty much just copy and paste the review from Thirst and swap the vampire priest for an over-protective mother.

Mother is the story of a woman whose 27-year-old mentally retarded son is framed for the murder of a local girl, and who goes to extreme lengths to prove his innocence and find the real killer.

The film begins with what I was sure was a lengthy scene of former BBC newsreader Moira Stuart dancing in a cornfield, and things didn’t really get any less weird from then on. Although not as supernatural or surreal as director Bong Joon-ho’s previous film The Host, Mother still firmly inhabits that world of Asian cinema where everything’s slightly skewif. The mother and son relationship, for example, is surprisingly close in more ways than one.

Like Thirst, the black comedy’s there, the cinematography – while not as impressive as Park Chan-wook’s – is excellent, and the two leads are convincing as an obsessive mother and a troubled son, but the longer the film went on the more I was fidgeting in my seat waiting for it to end. The mystery is eventually solved unnecessarily late, resolving itself primarily by having characters suddenly remember something which could easily have been remembered about half an hour earlier.

Still worth watching, then, but I’m still waiting for the next Oldboy to burst out of Korea and gobble up its contemporaries like a reluctant live squid.

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