Director: BONG JOON-HO

128 minutes| South Korea| 2009| Subtitled| Colour| D-Cinema

While his previous offering The Host unleashed a giant man-eating amphibian on downtown Seoul, the protagonist in Bong Joon-ho’s latest dazzling offering is a middle-aged woman who’s hardly less imposing. We never even learn her name, but this mother is a single-minded individual who simply refuses to accept her slow-witted son’s signed confession as any evidence that he’s guilty of murdering a schoolgirl. So she sets out to find the killer off her own bat.

Bong finds plenty of dark humour in a Korean landscape teeming with corrupt lawyers, dodgy cops and absent fathers, but this single mum’s steely, somewhat unsettling devotion to her boy allows the film to mine an almost primal level of emotion, ably sustained by legendary Korean actress Kim Hye-ja’s super-concentrated central performance. Critics have yet to invent a term for a film combining Almodovar, Hitchcock and Henri-Georges Clouzot into one startling package, so you’ll just have to see this for yourself. It’s quite something. (Notes by Trevor Johnston).

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