Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Crime, Thriller
  • 2009




A classy thriller from South Korean director Joon-ho Bong, starring Kim Hye-Ja as a mother determined to clear her son's name


With Mother, writer-director Joon-ho Bong (The Host, Memories Of Murder) helps maintain the reputation of contemporary South Korean cinema for oddity and excellence with a blackly comic murder mystery that dances around social mores, genuine tragedy and blind loyalty, guided by a piercing eye for the absurd.

The matriarch of the title is devoted to her simple son, Do-joon (Bin Won), whose strangeness is never identified as a specific mental disorder, a shrewd move that stops us from classifying him and making him a victim or monster according to our own prejudices. When a teenage girl is murdered by a mystery assailant, the local community is up in arms, convinced of Do-Joon's guilt. Even he seems to think it might be true. But Mother knows best, and she'll be damned if she's not going to get to the bottom of things.

It's this relatively straightforward set-up that provides a framework for some delicately observed satire realised via lush, confident visuals. You'll hear the term Hitchcockian bandied about in reference to this film. The score, together with a certain detached amusement at mankind's follies, backs this up, but in other respects this film belongs to its director more than its influences. If Bongian isn’t a word yet, it will be.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Bin Won, Ku Jin
  • Director: Joon-Ho Bong
  • Writer: Joon-Ho Bong
  • Producer: Jae-Won Choi
  • Photographer: Kyung-Pyo Hong

In a nutshell

A deceptively simple and humorous tale with wonderfully nasty flashes of violence that feel entirely real. Kim Hye-Ja's performance as the title character is just one reason to fall for this expertly executed piece of filmmaking.

by Catherine Bray

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4


    Katell Quillévéré's family-based drama follows Suzanne, a teenage mother who falls for a gangster

  • Film4

    The Purge

    Ethan Hawke stars in James DeMonaco's drama about a sanctioned night where all crime is legal

  • Film4

    Me and You on Film4

    Premiere of Bernardo Bertoluccis drama about a boy and his half-sister who run away together.

  • Film4

    Philadelphia on Film4

    Denzel Washington and Oscar-winning Tom Hanks star in Jonathan Demme's powerful drama.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    BIFA brings 2015 nominated films to cinemas

    BIFA-nominated films including the Film4-backed 45 Years, The Lobster, Macbeth, Amy and Ex Machina will be available in cinemas nationwide from 23 November in a special public screenings event. The

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Film4-backed films receive 41 nominations at the BIFAs

    Film4 has received a total of 41 nominations for the films it has backed at this year¿s British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs), with the nomination lists for the Best British Film and Best Director a

Register with

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register