Bong Joon-ho’s 2009 film Mother has rightly been lauded across the globe, and the filmmaker who came to the attention of many people with his 2006 monster movie The Host has created another stirring piece of cinema with one of the finest central performances for many years.

The direction is deceptively simple, the powerful presence of Kim Hye-ja carries the film through its moments of tension and surprise, and Bong Joon-ho’s greatest triumph is making us believe we are watching a mystery unraveling when all the time another is being wound around us. It’s breathtaking.

Ostensibly the story of the murder of a young girl and the arrest, perfunctory investigation and conviction of a young boy Do-Joon, this film is all about the effect of this crime and punishment on the title character, Do-Joon’s Mother. Her unwillingness to believe her son capable of murder leads her to immerse herself in her fellow townsfolk’s lives, to discover the truth about them, Do-Joon and the murdered girl, and ultimately herself.

Jin Goo and Won Bin are extremely engaging as the two friends caught up in the murder, and the fallout when Do-Joon is convicted offer the actors nicely diverged paths, with which Bong Joon-ho plays with our expectations and sympathies to terrific effect.

But this is Kim Hye-ja’s film. Her performance is something extraordinary, from the very first shot to the last she carries this film with a complex and understated manner she is magnetic and the film’s triumph is hers.

It’s heartfelt, beautiful and is one of the rare occasions when a lead actor is a woman over the age of 40, and comes like a breath of fresh air into the staid musk of the multiplex and should be on everyone’s DVD shelf as soon as posible.

The extras on the disc are very well put together, offering a wider discussion on the film’s themes and focusing on the remarkable unnamed title character and the actress behind her.

The DVD is out today, and comes highly recommended. Here’s the trailer.

DVD Special Features,

  • Making of Mother
  • The Transformation of Hye-Ja Kim
  • Cast and Crew Reflect
  • Trailer