Sunday, December 27, 2020

Madeo / Mother (2019 digital restoration)

Bong Joon-ho: 마더 / Madeo / Mother (KR 2009) starring Kim Hye-ja (Mother).

마더 / Mother / Mother.
    KR 2009. PC: CJ Entertainment / Barunson. P: Choi Jae-won, Seo Woo-sik.
    D: Bong Joon-ho. SC: Park Eun-kyo, Bong Joon-ho – based on a story by Bong Joon-ho. Cin: Hong Kyung-pyo – negative: 35 mm – colour – 2,35:1. PD: Ryu Seong-hie. Cost: Choi Se-yeon. Makeup and hair: Hwang Hyun-kyu. Special makeup effects: Lee Hee Eun. VFX: Lee Jeon-hyeong. M: Lee Byung-woo. S: Choi Tae-young. ED: Moon Sae-kyung.
    CAST as edited in Wikipedia:
    Kim Hye-ja as Mother, an unnamed widow who is extremely protective of her son and attempts to free him from a murder charge.
    Won Bin as Yoon Do-joon, the teenage son of Mother, who has an intellectual disability and is accused of the murder of a local girl.
    Jin Goo as Jin-tae, a local ne'er do well and one of Do-joon's friends. He bosses Do-joon around but agrees to help Mother free her son.
    Moon Hee-ra as Moon Ah-jung, a young girl who is murdered, leading the police to arrest Do-joon.
    Yoon Je-moon as Je-moon, the detective in charge of Ah-jung's murder case.
    Jeon Mi-seon as Mi-seon, a photo worker who met with Ah-jung before she died.
    Song Sae-byeok as Detective
    Chun Woo-hee as Mi-na, Jin-tae's girlfriend and Do-joon's best friend.
    Kwak Do-won as Charcoal fire man
    Kim Jin-goo as Ah-jung's grandma
    Lee Young-suk as Elder at junk shop
Loc: Busan, Jeolla Province.
    128 min
    Festival premiere: 16 May 2009 Cannes Film Festival.
    Korean premiere: 28 May 2009.
    Finnish festival premiere: 18 Sep 2010 Helsinki International Film Festival.
    Finnish premiere: 5 Feb 2021 – released by Future Film with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Heli Kristiina Kasem / Janne Kauppila.
    Finnish preview start: 18 Dec 2020.
    Viewed at Finnkino Strand 3, Lappeenranta, 27 Dec 2020.

IMDb synopsis: "A mother desperately searches for the killer who framed her son for a girl's horrific murder."

AA: Bong Joon-ho's fifth feature film, Mother, screened in Finland previously only at festivals, has its Finnish theatrical premiere in the wake of the international breakthrough of Parasite. On display is a new digital restoration.

In terms of suspense, storytelling and mise-en-scène, Mother is worthy of Hitchcock, also in terms of focusing on the meaningful detail. It is possible to imagine that Mother might have been inspired by Psycho, one of Bong's favourite films.

"A boy's best friend is his mother" is a comment by Norman Bates that comes to mind from the relationship between Do-joon and his mother. They sleep together, but in the way a baby sleeps with his mother. Do-joon is mentally handicapped, always protected by tiger mama. "You and I are one", says mother.

But then Ah-jung, a schoolgirl, is killed at night, and a golf ball signed with Do-joon's name is found at the scene of the crime. Everybody accuses Do-joon who is convicted into a prison sentence.

Only mother knows that Do-joon is incapable of murder. She is absolutely fearless defending her son against a furious mob. When she goes to Ah-jung's funeral, she is brutally evicted. The mother then becomes a detective, and the sujet is the story of her investigation. The fabula, the mystery of the crime, involves devastating surprises.

At the bottom of the revelations is Do-joon's repressed childhood memory. When he was five years old, his mother, in circumstances of extreme deprivation, tried to poison him with pesticide in an attempt of extended suicide. We don't know if Do-joon's retardation was a cause or a consequence.

Bong's movie earns a place among cinema's unforgettable accounts of dysfunctional motherhood, next to White Heat, Psycho, The Manchurian Candidate, Woody Allen's Oedipus Wrecks and John Ford's Pilgrimage.

I'm still on my way to come to terms with what Bong's cinema is about. While I find much of it admirable, I struggle to make sense of the fascination with the sordid. In circumstances of extreme deprivation, we simultaneously abhor and empathise. But what is the point exactly.

The digital restoration conveys the subtle visual quality of Hong Kyung-pyo's cinematography with flair.




"An unnamed widow lives alone with her only son, selling medicinal herbs in a small town in southern South Korea while conducting unlicensed acupuncture treatments for the town's women on the side. Her son, Yoon Do-joon, is shy, but prone to attacking anyone who mocks his intellectual disability. She dotes on him and scolds him for hanging out with Jin-tae, a local thug. When Do-joon is nearly hit by a car, he and Jin-tae vandalize the car and attack the driver and passengers as revenge. Jin-tae blames Do-joon for the damage done to the car, and Do-joon is sued. His mother struggles with the burden of the debt."

"On his way home from a bar late at night, Do-joon sees a high school girl named Moon Ah-jung walking alone and follows her into an abandoned building. The next morning, she is discovered dead on the rooftop, shocking the town and pressuring the incompetent police to find the killer. Only circumstantial evidence places Do-joon near the scene of the crime, but the police arrest the boy anyway. He is tricked into signing a confession and faces a long prison sentence. His mother, believing him innocent, tries to prove he is not the murderer. However, she is unsuccessful, as the lawyer she hires is self-absorbed and unhelpful and the community unanimously blames Do-joon for the crime."

"The mother breaks into Jin-tae's house and takes a golf club, which she believes has blood on it. But when she turns it over to the police and Jin-tae is confronted about it, it becomes clear that the blood is just smeared lipstick. Despite her accusation, Jin-tae agrees to help the mother solve the case—for a fee."

"The mother fires her lawyer and questions the people in town about Ah-jung. They tell her she was sexually promiscuous and in a relationship with a boy known as "Crazy JP," who had escaped a sanatorium."

"Do-joon attacks another prisoner who calls him "retard." On one of his mother's prison visits, Do-joon recalls a memory of her attempt to kill him and then herself when he was five, by lacing their drinks with pesticide. She tries to apologize, saying she wanted to free them both from hardship and offers to give him acupuncture to forget his pain, but he tells her he never wants to see her again."

"The mother learns from a camera-shop worker that Ah-jung had frequent nosebleeds. Ah-jung's friend is attacked by two young men who are looking for Ah-jung's phone, but the mother rescues her. She pays Jin-tae to interrogate the men, who claim that Ah-jung accepted rice in exchange for sex (and was nicknamed "the rice cake girl"). They say that she used her phone to secretly take pictures of her partners, thus making it a potential tool for blackmailing. The mother tracks down the phone, hidden at Ah-jung's grandmother's house."

"Do-joon remembers seeing a man in the building on the night of Ah-jung's death. He identifies an elderly man from one of the pictures on Ah-jung's phone—a junk collector the mother once bought an umbrella from. She goes to his home on the pretense of offering him charity medical services and asks him about what he saw."

"The junk collector ultimately reveals that Do-joon is the real killer. The junk collector had been in the abandoned building and watched the interchange between Do-joon and Ah-jung. They have a short conversation about sex, during which she throws a large rock at him. When she calls him a "retard", he throws the rock back in retaliation, inadvertently killing her. He then drags her to the rooftop in panic, thinking, as he explains later, that if he puts her there, someone will see she is hurt and help her."

"The mother is horrified by the truth. When the junk collector learns that Do-joon will be released and the case reopened, he immediately picks up the phone to report Do-joon's guilt to the police. The mother, fearing for her son, bludgeons the collector with a wrench and sets fire to his house."

"Later, the police tell her that they have found the "real" killer: Crazy JP, who is being presumed guilty after Ah-jung's blood was found on his shirt. The police assume it came from attempted rape, and only the mother knows that JP's story, that the blood is the result of Ah-jung's nose bleeding during consensual sex, is true. Feeling guilty, she visits JP and cries for him, knowing he is going to jail for a crime he did not commit."

"Do-joon is freed from prison, and Jin-tae picks him up. They pass the junk collector's burned-down house on the way and stop to pick through the rubble. During dinner, he later muses to his mother that whoever dragged Ah-jung up to the roof was probably trying to alert others so they could help her quickly. As his mother departs for a bus station to go on a trip, Do-joon returns her acupuncture kit, which he found in the remains of the junk collector's house, and tells her to be more careful. His mother tearfully leaves, shocked by this discovery. On the bus, she sits in shock before giving herself acupuncture to forget her pain and then dances with the other passengers.
" (Wikipedia)

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