One of the most interesting and surprising films that I saw in the past year was Bong Joon-ho’s Mother, which is a unique thriller that constantly confounds expectations. Just like his previous film, The Host, it works within a genre and subverts it by moving outside of the parameters of it. The twists and turns of the film are delightful and it becomes an emotional roller coaster that turns us around so many times that I was surprised how my feelings about the characters changed. But the characters are at the centre of the film and Kim Hye-ja gives a nuanced performance as a mother who will do anything to protect her son and find out the truth.
The basic premise of the film is that a mentally-challenged young man is charged with murdering a young woman by incompetent police who want to quickly close the case. His mother wants to solve the mystery and starts to investigate. Several times I started to settle down for a solid thriller, but the film would shift tones and deliver a critical piece of information that would make you rethink everything you’ve seen before. The film had me from the first sequence which features Kim Hye-ja walking across a field towards the camera and dancing.