Mother Blu-ray Review
PictureMother comes to Blu-ray with a decent enough 1080p High Definition rendition in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. Despite being comparatively low-budget, the film looks surprisingly good on Blu-ray, the Director's aforementioned style helping a great deal in making a little look like quite a lot. Detail is generally very good throughout, whether on the closely-observed facial expressions or on the landscape of the over-populated small village, with no noticeable edge enhancement, and only a little negligible softness across the production. Grain is never unintentional, and only adds a filmic quality to the sombre mystery. The colour scheme is quite restricted by the setting and tone, but the colours shown are represented authentically throughout, and contrast levels are strong throughout, allowing for deep tones but no unnecessary bleeding. Blacks are also remarkably solid, helping the shadow-laden drama. Overall it is a solid and really quite special visual offering which doesn't quite reach the standards of spectacular.
SoundOn the aural front we get an equally decent DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track in the movie's original Korean language. This isn't the kind of production that boasts a bombastic soundtrack, so things have to be judged rather differently for this mix, which really does go for clinical, nuanced observation as opposed to aural assault. Dialogue is keenly presented, clearly emanating from across the frontal array, and the effects - most often atmospheric touches - come at you largely from the fronts and centre channels too, with only a little directionality added in when the sound is supposed to be coming from behind you. The unusual part about the track is that it has been purposefully balanced (or rather, un-balanced) to accentuate key noises over and above the general ambience. And this comes across very well, whether it be the slice of the mother's hand-guillotine or the dull, penetrating thud of the rock that is hurled towards Do-joon, highlighting these noises and making their 'impact' even more potent. Still, if you want noisy bombast, or even surround-stretching dynamics, you've probably come to the wrong place. This is a subtle, but effective audio offering. On the subtitles front, we get decent enough English subtitles that are comprehensible and grammatically correct for the most part.
ExtrasThe UK release comes up slightly short when compared to its Korean and even US counterparts. Firstly we lose the Audio Commentary (but so did the US) but we also lose a whole bunch of Featurettes, leaving us with just the Making of Mother and a couple of Featurettes. Honestly though, I can't see how anybody complain as the comprehensive Making-Of is nothing short of a mammoth film-length 90-minute Documentary which covers just about all you would want to know about the movie, and if you do want more, the Featurettes on the lead actress, and on the cast and crew's views of the movie, should more than suffice. I know completists would have wanted it all, but an 90-minute Documentary is indisputably impressive nonetheless.
VerdictMother is a rather strange creature. It may well be internationally acclaimed, but it is one of those films that you may admire but don't actually like all that much. Personally, I could not quite get to grips with the lead characters, who are (and whose behaviour is) just so far beyond the norm that empathy goes straight out the window (with sympathy hot on its heels). Compelling because it's just so damn strange, driven by some superior performances (not least by the mother of the title) and very adeptly directed, the stylish film is understandably loved by critics, but I just didn't like the characters enough, so - personally - I have to chalk the movie down to being a 'quality production, but a movie that I will likely never want to watch again'. It's not without ambition, but it is also not without flaws. On Region Free UK Blu-ray the movie boasts solid video and audio as well as a couple of extras - including a mammoth and exhaustively comprehensive Documentary - rounding off a disc which fans will likely want to pick up. If you've heard great things about this movie, try not to set your hopes too high, as its initial success may have been helped by a complete lack of expectations. This is a well-made character-driven mystery drama, but it is perhaps not the masterpiece that many have made it out to be. Worth a rental to figure out for yourself whether it is worth all of the praise that it has been getting.
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