Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hollow Dance

Mother (2009) - Bong
How far will you go to prove your child's innocence? Kim Hye-ja, the reigning queen of Korean tv drama plays the title character in Bong Joon-ho's Mother. He uses Kim's presence to the fullest here. Those big fawny eyes, raven's nest hair, wiry frame. She has been the mother of Korean collective consciousness for the last 40 some years. And she is a force to be reckoned with.

As he demonstrated over the years, Bong's a very talented director, churning out well polished dramedies (Memories of Murder, The Host) with everyman's touch. As we go through the moral muck of the small town ghetto, filled with poverty stricken swindlers, retards, incompetent police, glue sniffing high schoolers, we recognize right away that we are in Bong's world. Mom yells at her idiot son at a visitation after he gets arrested for murder, "Why did you sign the confession? You don't do that even if you are guilty!"

Like in Memories of Murder, Bong's not in a hurry to reveal the murderer. That's not really what he's after. There are plenty of small details and characters he wants to present first. It's not about child prostitution, not about broken family and not even about ineffective judicial system. Bong's very good at his own brand of storytelling. But I feel that he shortchanges those important elements to do so. Ultimately, it's about celebration of motherhood. But it feels hollow somehow.

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