Mother

Movie review by
Alistair Lawrence, Common Sense Media
Mother Movie Poster Image
Dark Korean dramedy has violence, sex, and swearing.
  • R
  • 2009
  • 129 minutes

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Negative portrayals of both the police and the legal system. People break the law in an attempt to achieve their goals.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mother takes extreme measures to try to free her imprisoned son -- even if this means breaking the law. Yoon Do-joon has learning disabilities and is let down by others. But he is both passive and quick to anger, and at the start of the movie talks about having sex but not caring who with.

Violence

Someone is hit by car and sustains minor, bloody injuries. The same car is later vandalized. Scuffles with makeshift weapons such as golf clubs and sticks. A dead body is shown draped over wall. Characters are dragged into cars and onto fairground rides. Punches and kicks are thrown as part of a martial arts demonstration. Characters are slapped in the face and drop-kicked. A schoolkid is bullied and threatened with a knife. Various characters kicked -- including one in the in face, causing a tooth to be knocked out and blood to be spilled. Wrench used as a weapon resulting in the death of a character, whose house is subsequently burned down. Reference to a previous murder-suicide attempt. Character killed after being hit with a rock.

Sex

References to sex. One character undresses in prison, removing their trousers. Couple are seen naked from the waist up. They are then shown having sex fully naked. Kissing that leaves lipstick marks. One character looks at porn on a computer. Various suggestive photos of couples posing or appearing to have sex.

Language

Cursing includes "a--hole," "s--t," "bastard," "f--k," "s--theads," "retard," "piss off," "go to hell," "f--ker," and "bitch." Also "schoolgirl p---y," "c--ks," "for Christ's sake," and "poop."

Consumerism

Alcohol and golf clubs feature occasionally but there is no lingering on brands labels. Mobile phones and their accessories feature often but likewise no brand names are prominently displayed.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink beers and spirits in bars and restaurants. Numerous characters appear drunk -- some seemingly even passing out. One character drinks rice wine from a bottle. Some characters drink to alleviate problems rather than for enjoyment. Characters smoke.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mother -- also known as Madeo -- is a Korean (with English subtitles) black comedy-drama with violence, strong language, and themes of a sexual nature. The movie is written and directed by Bong Joon-ho whose Parasite won the Best Picture Oscar in 2020. After Yoon Do-joon (Won Bin) -- a man who has learning difficulties -- becomes the main suspect in a high-profile murder case because of the circumstantial evidence against him, his mother (Kim Hye-ja) tries to track down the real killer. There are several incidences of people sustaining injuries that draw blood, most notably when a character is kicked in the face and loses a tooth. Another character is attacked with a wrench, which causes his death, before his house is burned down. There is strong -- and sexual -- language throughout. Male characters discuss female characters having sex using mocking and degrading words and phrases, with one young character referred to as having "schoolgirl p---y." There is one sex scene where both characters appear nude with their top halves clearly visible. There are also suggestive photos, some of which include characters having partially clothed sex. Characters are regularly seen drinking -- sometimes to excess -- as well as smoking.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 14 years old Written byhorrormovieguy21 August 5, 2020

Great but dark movie.

Although great and complex with a smart story, it is still very dark. A man's head gets squished with a wrench and a girl's head is squished with a ro... Continue reading

What's the story?

MOTHER follows a mother's (Kim Hye-ja) attempts to free her son, Yoon Do-joon (Won Bin) from jail in a small town in South Korea, after he is accused of murdering a local schoolgirl. Her disappointment and frustration with how poorly the authorities handle her son's case drives her to take increasingly desperate measures to free him.

Is it any good?

Much like writer and director Bong Joon-ho's Oscar-winning Parasite, this film is an unflinching satire of South Korea's failing institutions. Mother (or Madeo to give it its original title) also examines how disempowered people often resort to tactics that cross moral and legal lines. Skilfully shot with rich cinematography, it wastes no time drawing the viewer into the characters' world. Their frustrations form both the moral center and the emotional core of the movie.

However, the first hour is both slow and light on plot, which makes for a frustrating viewing. That it leans heavily on the broad comic performances that undercut several of Bong's movies results in a heavy-handed portrayal of the problems vulnerable people face in their everyday lives, too. The ending is stark and memorable, but overall this is an uneven watch, most likely to be enjoyed only by Bong's most dedicated fans.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Mother. How did it affect you? Is it meant to be shocking or thrilling? What's the difference? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How is sex depicted in the movie? What values are imparted?

  • Talk about the strong language in the movie. Does it seem necessary or excessive? What does it contribute to the movie? Did the subtitles make a difference to the impact of the language?

  • Discuss the movie's portrayal of learning disabilities. How is the character of Yoon Do-joon treated by people? What more could have been done to help him when he is accused of murder?

  • Talk about the mobile phones and handheld recording devices used in the movie. How is tech different today, and how would smartphones likely have changed the course of the movie's criminal investigation?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love foreign films

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate