Director Bong Joon-ho
, known here and abroad for his 2006 monster hit "The Host"
, (which remains the top-grossing film of all time in Korea) has changed gears with his new feature "Mother - 2009"
, a moving but hard-hitting crime-drama that screened to standing ovations and stellar reviews at the Cannes Film Festival last month. The film opens across Korea May 28 and is set to rule the box office if BONG's previous hits are any indication.
Veteran TV actress Kim Hye-ja
won glowing accolades at the French fest for her gritty performance as a mother who takes on the local police when her half-wit son is blamed for a gruesome crime. Actor and popular heartthrob Won Bin
plays the shy, near-imbecile Do-jun, who at 27 is still a virgin living with his mom. Friendship with a local bad boy winds him in trouble and when the body of a girl brutally murdered is found, the lazy police department pin the crime on him and extract a confession.
Bowing at Cannes outside the competition spotlight in the sidebar Un Certain Regard section, the film drew praise from international critics with Derek Elley of Variety calling it "a mutha of a different kind" that deserved to be in the Cannes competition section, a sentiment Maggie LEE of the Hollywood Reporter echoed, adding ""Mother - 2009"
confirms BONG's prodigious talent in bending any genre to serve his own idiosyncratic vision".
Mike D'Angelo at the AV Club, went further, saying "Not only is "Mother - 2009"
superior to everything I've seen in Competition thus far, but its UCR placement robs KIM of the Best Actress award she so richly deserves; that she never once slips into caricature or begs for easy pathos is miraculous, and I can only imagine how subversive her performance must be for a Korean audience".
Nigel D'Sa (KOFIC)