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Bong hits

By PETER KEOUGH  |  February 24, 2010

The events in between seem at first like a reconfiguration of Memories of Murder by way of The Host. A girl is found murdered, and the investigation, though more advanced than in Memories (the favorite TV show this time is CSI), is no less ineffectual. At a loss once again, the police pin the blame on Do-joon (Bin Won), a childlike local with not much going on upstairs, alternately brutalizing and bamboozling him into a confession.

But they don't count on the power of the title mother's love. She knows her boy is innocent, and like the intrepid Parks in The Host, she sets out on an investigation of her own, with as much zeal and a lot more resourcefulness. She's a heroine you can root for. In the course of her crusade, she reveals the rottenness behind the façade of propriety, and she demonstrates that the primal bonds of blood are far more resilient, and ruthless, than the protocols of the powers that be.

In Mother, Bong synthesizes not only a host of generic conventions but also the elements unique to Bong himself: mentally disabled scapegoats, victimized women, bureaucratic stupidity, suspicious vagabonds, umbrellas. It's the finest work yet by a filmmaker who knows how to turn the toxins poisoning our lives into a figment of savage power and delight.

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