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Sonny Dearest: Bong Joon-ho's Mother

Mother, directed by Korea’s Bong Joon-ho (The Host) has wonderfully loopy premise. The overprotective mother (Kim Hye-ja) of a mentally-disabled young man turns Nancy Drew when her son is arrested for the brutal murder of a local teenager. The old woman dogs the police, who are arrogantly dismissive. She tracks down witnesses, traces the girl’s whereabouts on the night she died, and even breaks into a suspect’s house—then slips into the closet when he arrives and jumps into bed with a young girl. In the course of solving the murder, the mother comes smack up against a hideous secret from her past—a doozy involving her damaged son. Had Mother been swiftly paced, it might have been a psycho-pulp classic. But Bong has been to too many film festivals and seen too many glacial Asian dramas. He lingers on the face of Kim Hye-ja as if there’s something new to see in every shot—and it’s always the same stricken, monomaniacal determination. The finale is good and nasty, but it's too long in coming. Where is Harvey “Scissorhands” Weinstein when you need him?

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