Thursday, February 10, 2011


Directed by Joon-Ho Bong.
2009. Rated R, 128 minutes, Korean.
Hye-ja Kim
Bin Won
Ku Jin
Je-mun Yun
Mi-sun Jun
Sae-Byeok Song
Gin-goo Kim

A young woman with a tawdry reputation turns up dead and draped over the edge of a building’s roof. In very short order, the police decide that Do-Joon (Won) is the guilty party. Since we’ve already met him, we don’t think he’s capable of such a thing. He has some undefined mental disability which severely hampers his memory. It also renders him socially immature. Autism, maybe? He appears to be fairly harmless. His mother (Hye-ja Kim), whom he lives with, agrees with this assessment and takes to the streets to do what O. J. Simpson vowed so many years ago: find the real killer.

Mom soon finds herself in all sorts of dangerous positions, dealing with shady characters and getting no cooperation from the cops who insist they have the right person. Regardless of the risks she must take or the potential futility of her quest, she drives on, undeterred.

This sounds like a pretty typical murder mystery where someone close to the accused takes up their cause and tries to find who’s really responsible. It’s more than that. In fact, by the time we reach the end, the crime’s perpertrator is of secondary importance. Of primary concern is the unfolding of a mother’s relationship with her son. A revelation late in the movie surprises, possibly even upsets us. Though its something she already knew, how this is brought to the surface surprises and upsets her, also. An action she takes later not only gives herself those same feelings, it irrevocably changes her. For us, our perception of her changes with the revelation. The question then becomes does the action change it back, or worsen? In answering that question, the movie leads us to an interesting debate. Knowing what we’ve just witnessed, would we be proud to say she were our mother?

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