MIFF Day 11: Mother and Hansel & Gretel

MOTHER (2009), South Korea, is that the type of film that you hope to discover at a film festival, original, clever, usually subtitled and from the Asian region. Mother premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this year to strong reviews and strong word of mouth from audiences, but that’s Cannes and not the real film festival circuit. The reality is Joon-ho Bong’s film is brilliant after stunning the world with THE HOST (2006) and MEMORIES OF MURDER (2003) he demonstrates his directorial skills again with competence. Mother is about the unhealthy dedication a mother can show towards her hapless son (Yoon Do-joon) who manages to get himself in trouble with the police and wounds up being the suspect in murder investigation. The performance of Hye-ja Kim as Yoon’s mother is tour de force, as she tries to exonerate her son. The film is two hours of brilliance that builds slowly to reveal the truth of the murder and depths of what a mother would do for her son.

HANSEL AND GRETEL (2007), South Korea, the idea of an re-imagination of this fairy-tale told by a Korean filmmaker brings excitement that they will apply their aesthetics to such classic fairy-tale. Unfortunately this film fell well below my expectations. Instead what was served up was a Twilight Zone or Amazing Stories television episode that drags on for two hours. The film was enjoyable but never reaches it’s full potential and leaves you with a hint of disappointment of what could have been.