19 February 2010

마더 (Mother) *

I'm a picky audience when it comes to genre, especially when it comes to mystery stories -- which, at its heart, is what Mother is. Don't get me wrong, I'm tough on mysteries because I love a good mystery. And having seen a lot of them, I'll be honest with you: nothing raises my hackles quite as quickly as the old trope of "I don't remember the pertinent information... oh wait, now I remember it all exactly. Just in time, too!" That's a rough hump to get past.

I like when the movie is driven by its characters, but between this and The Host I wonder about Bong's use of quirkiness. I'm of the school of thought that quirky characterization should be the medium, not the message. But still, you felt right along with the characters in this, and in The Host. I liked the convoluted backstory wherein everybody's current predicament is the fault of the main character's previous actions -- felt very Almodovar. I didn't like the convoluted foreground-story that was one big, labyrinthine red herring. I just couldn't connect the dead-end theory to the real story in a meaningful way.

To put it succinctly (something these posts never quite achieve), if I broke this film into an objective pro/con list, I think the cons would weigh out, but there's something in the tone and style of the film that saves it. It's not great, but it's good. I think I like both Bong's other films more, is all.

Seen at the Broadway Multiplex as part of the Portland International Film Festival.

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