The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Magnolia - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 129 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): Korean DTS-HD 5.1 Maser Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Kim Hye-ja, Won Bin
Directed by: Bong Joon-Ho
Music by: Lee Byeong-Woo
Written by: Park Eun-Kyo & Bong Joon-Ho
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 20, 2010
"She'll stop at nothing"
Mother is a devoted single parent to her simple-minded twenty-seven-year-old son, Do-joon. Often a source of anxiety to his mother, Do-joon behaves in foolish or simply dangerous ways. One night, while walking home drunk, he encounters a school girl who he follows for a while before she disappears into a dark alley. The next morning, she is found dead in an abandoned building and Do-joon is accused of her murder. An inefficient lawyer and an apathetic police force result in a speedy conviction. His mother refuses to believe her beloved son is guilty and immediately undertakes her own investigation to find the girl's killer. In her obsessive quest to clear her son's name, Mother steps into a world of unimaginable chaos and shocking revelations.
Mother is a well enacted character study that examines the will and determination of a woman in order to prove the innocence of her mentally challenged son after he is arrested for the murder of a local teenage girl. Mother is over protective of her twenty something year old son Do-joon although in her defense it is probably for good reason. He has an affinity for associating with the wrong people and that along with his quick temper often lands him in trouble. A promiscuous local teen girl is found dead and Do-joon is the last person seen in the vicinity of the murder scene. When the police discover circumstantial evidence linking him to the murder he is arrested and charged. Mother contends he is incapable of such a crime and Do-joon's inability to recollect what happened that night (because he was intoxicated) leaves nothing for her to go on in his defense. Frustrated and with no one willing to help her she begins to look for clues that might lead to the identity of the killer. When she discovers more about the victim she learns that her storied past may hold the clues she seeks to prove Do-joon's innocence. What Mother doesn't realize is that those answers and what she has to do to obtain them will ultimately cost her much more.
Director/co-writer Bong Joon-Ho does a terrific job connecting the audience with Mother, the films main character. She remains sympathetic throughout and the correlation between the plot's development and Mother's transformation from a typical over protector to a cunning, monomaniacal bloodhound is expertly integrated. This is a sort of a mystery/thriller that draws us in by slowly peeling back its layers. The story has lots of depth and speaks to issues related to social acceptance and the painful remorse that can be associated with guilt over past deeds. Korean TV veteran Kim Hye-ja plays against type and gives a strong performance. The film is beautifully shot and staged which entices with visually stimulating imagery that pulls us further into the story. I found Mother to be a compelling and well executed film that capably maintained its composure through to the revealing ending which made for a rewarding genre entry that turned out to be better than expected.
The rating is for language, some sexual content, violence, and drug use.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Mother comes to Blu-ray Disc from Magnolia HE featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.4 Mbps.
This video presentation offers little in the way of high Gloss, razor sharp imagery but it seems to represent the film's elements well. Primary colors appear satisfying while the film intentionally maintains a cooler overall palette that works well against the drab settings featured in the story. Complexions are texturally descriptive with lifelike tonality that varies only slightly among the cast. Resolution is very good although the film's inherently softer elements leave some wide angle shots with smoother lines and average delineation. Close ups and mid level shots are more revealing of the resolvable detail that draws out subtle textures in the people and objects within the frame. Contrast is on the money and blacks are stable but not overly dynamic in appearance. This wasn't really a problem as there were few scenes that utilized low level material where this was consistently apparent. I saw no overt signs of video anomalies or compression related artifacts and thought this appeared to be a pristine quality encoding.
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack had no trouble rendering clear and well articulated dialogue. Sound effects had notable dynamic energy so that they sounded full bodied and aurally satisfying. This is not a film that requires heavy use of surround sound to deliver its message but it does rely on the entire soundstage for proper atmosphere and low frequency detail from time to time. The mix excels at creating the right sounds at the right levels and placing them appropriately in the sound field's acoustic environment. Low frequency effects are used to deliver deep impact when called for and to add solidity to the film music. I thought it sounded great.
* CIH users should note that the subtitles are contained within the picture area.*
- Making of Mother - 90 minutes
- A look at actress Kim Hye-ja - 9 minutes
- Behind the scenes - 6 minutes
- Production design featurette - 11 minutes
- Supporting actors featurette - 14 minutes
- Cinematography featurette - 9 minutes
- Music score featurette - 15 minutes
Mother is a compelling mystery/thriller with a multi-faceted story built around a wonderfully portrayed character by Korean TV veteran Kim Hye-ja. It's a well executed film that handily maintains its composure through to its revealing finale. I found it to be a rewarding genre entry that turned out to be better than expected. Magnolia HE brings it to Blu-ray Disc in typically good fashion with strong audio/video quality that compliments the film's original elements. Included are a decent offering of bonus supplements that provide a comprehensive look at the production and cast. Mother is a film worthy of your time especially if you have an appreciation for its interesting perspective and well crafted story.
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