If you were to categorize Mother, you could do worse than "murder mystery." When Do-joon (Won Bin) is accused of murdering a schoolgirl, his mother (a terrific Kim Hye-ja) takes it upon herself to clear his name at any cost. This is a standard, boilerplate premise, but Bong dodges conventional noir trappings whenever he can, for better or worse. The mystery in Mother is almost beside the point: Answers come languidly as Kim's detective work brings her into circles of lawyers, policemen, and a teenage girl who modifies cell phones with spinning plastic poop antennas. The resulting film is a collection of arresting moments, one that's slow in pace and scattershot in structure. Whether you consider Mother a mess or a masterpiece, by the last reel, one thing is (still) clear: Bong is an extraordinarily unique filmmaker to spend two hours with.

by Dave Bow
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Joon-ho Bong
Won Bin, Kim Hye-ja, Ku Jin