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Saturday, December 27, 2014

MADEO / MOTHER (2009)

While less consistently audacious than the preceding releases from Korean writer/director Joon-ho Bong (the serial-killer drama MEMORIES OF MURDER/’03 and THE HOST/’06, his off-the-beat monster pic), this Mother-Love story is pretty fabulous in its own way, and only gets better with a thrilling turn to the dark about halfway in. The seemingly simply story follows some well-worn paths as a single mother fights flimsy evidence & recalcitrant police detectives to prove her son’s innocence on a murder rap; an especially difficult task since her only child is a mentally challenged young man with a faulty memory for detail. But just when you think you’ve seen this one before and know where it's headed, the film begins flipping all expectations . . . without holding a single ‘got’cha’ against us. Bong’s technique is so sure (he seems to hold the whole film process in one hand), he’s able to fluidly shift in and out of linear & non-linear narrative lines, then dip into dream sequences between nerve-jangling shock edits or blissful vistas of peaceful repose, as easily as if he were doing the backstroke. Then wrap things up with satisfying endnotes that take us far beyond any simple solutions.

DOUBLE-BILL: Boon has come over, so to speak, with an English-language debut, SNOWPIERCER/’13. Write-up to come.

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