Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mama film review

Pictures will come later, I promise! Still working on the screenshots!
Hi guys! K-bap here! Well I was going to watch the horror movie Bedevilled to celebrate Halloween, but that obviously didn’t happen. I had lots of work to do on Friday and it was late when I started my movie. I didn’t want to watch horror, or else I wouldn’t be able to sleep, and I was in dire need of something fluffy, so Mama it is! I was saving this for Mother’s Day, but I guess there are other movies out there about motherhood. Sorry for the off-season movie. I think that Mama is really sweet, but it’s not exactly the fluffiest thing. Which isn’t a bad thing (more on that later).  P.S. I’m sorry if I’m really wordy here.

In Mama, there are six main characters, three of them being mothers and three being their children (of various ages, though). I think I’ll start with the oldest mother-and-child. OK-JOO (Kim Hae-sook) is an elderly woman with a mid-thirties looking (the movie does not specify) son, SEUNG-CHUL (Yu Hae-jin). They live, in my opinion, quite luxuriously (probably all the money comes from Seung-chul), and Seung-chul pampers his mom a lot. Often she acts like a child around him, and I think it’s so cute and sweet that her son puts up with her.

Seung-chul is actually a gangster, and it’s adorable to see his mom coo over his English skills, because she thinks that he the best English teacher in the world, like he tells her he is. Their relationship is amusing and funny (and quite fluffy), such as when Ok-joo asks what tofu is in English. Seung-chul, who actually has no idea, lies to his mom and calls tofu “defireve,” and an English-speaking foreigner at the same marketplace corrects him. Not wanting to blunder, Seung-chul tells his mom (in Korean), “Omma, no one who speaks English calls it tofu! We all call it defireve. I’m an English teacher, remember?” It’s so cute that his mom believes him and says, “Yeah, dumb bastard!”

Seung-chul tries his hardest to please his mom and buys her all sorts of things, as well as sending her on trips to foreign places like Canada.
Seung-chul, throughout the whole movie seems like Ok-joo’s guardian (and later Ok-joo states that he is too. More on that later.) This is one of the most interesting couple I’ve ever seen, because their parent-child roles are completely reversed. I guess that’s what happens when your parents grow old, you just start taking care of them the way they had for the past two decades or so. Seung-chul is the sweetest, most nagging and caring son ever.

When Ok-joo is diagnosed with breast cancer, she refuses to get surgery, and at first I wondered why, but I guess that having cancer is just a pretty depressing fact, and Ok-joo will just feel incomplete (the surgery is to cut off one of the breasts) if she takes the surgery. It’s somehow sad and amusing at the same time, and Seung-chul ends up promising his mom to do whatever he can for her, in his power. Ok-joo later tells him how she wants to meet her first love DEOK-SOO (Jang Hang-seon), again, before she dies. Thus Seung-chul starts searching for Deok-soo (with the help of his hilarious lackeys, hee), and finally finds Deok-soo, who was supposed to be very smart and promising (Ok-joo wonders if he’s a lawyer) in bar/dance type of place. Disappointed, Seung-chul pays Deok-soo to pretend that he’s a great man and visit Ok-joo. It’s so sweet and sad at the same time, and we see what lengths (and lies) Seung-chul is willing to take to satisfy his omma’s wishes. He even gets half-beat up by an enemy gang while trying to save Deok-soo, who got caught by a rival gang, so that Deok-soo wouldn’t be late to his date. In addition to that, Deok-soo also books the best restaurant in all of Seoul and various other places where couples date. I really, really love Seung-chul’s rough exterior and his marshmallow heart (he’s like a big teddy bear! I love him!).

Though this couple is probably the fluffiest and lightest we’d get out of the three parent-child couples, there’s also some depth in it. We learn that Ok-joo was abused by her husband, and her son was her only reason to live (which explains Seung-chul acting sort of like her guardian.) For the most part of the movie Ok-joo is a silly, upbeat woman, and often annoying, but there’s a great moment when Deok-soo asks Ok-joo if she wants to leave with him, as he loves her very much. Seung-chul, undercover and nearby, listens with tears in his eyes, as Ok-joo says,
"You know I married a lowlife loser, and got beat up all my life. I died over and over again. You know who saved me? My son. To me, my son is my guardian. I…can never leave my guardian."
(In the distance, a younger Ok-joo and toddler Seung-chul walk together)  
Young Ok-joo: "Son, you make me so happy." 
Young Seung-chul: “Mom, you make me so happy too."

I always knew I was a crybaby, but this had me bawling. It’s the one-of-a-kind love, not a romantic one with a boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, but one that lasts forever and is unconditional: the one between a parent and child (or mom and child, in this case).

The second couple is less mother-and-child-love, but more mother-learns-to-love-child, and includes the nation’s favorite soprano singer, HEE-KYUNG (Jeon Soo-kyeong), and her high school dropout daughter, EUN-SUNG (Ryu Hyun-kyung). Hee-kyung is a really spoiled singer, and always cares for herself before Eun-sung. She’s selfish and keeps wanting more fame, and wouldn’t stop pursuing roles that she I too old to act. Eun-sung, on the other hand, stopped pursing her dream to sing, and later we are told that it was her mother who did so. Eun-sung resents Hee-kyung, and thus did many things she shouldn’t have: she married right after high school, had a kid right after marrying. She now lives with her husband KIL-JOON (Kim Jin-soo) and child YEON-DOO (Lee Jang-kyung).

I can see that Hee-kyung really loves singing, as she tells people to “feel” the stage and the lyrics, and I understand that. I’ve had the chance to perform on stages before, and I know how it feels to really enjoy music. However, Hee-kyung is really cruel to her daughter. When Eun-sung calls her selfish and mean, as Hee-kyung uses connections to get a role in a musical, Hee-kyung screams that Eun-sung has no dream, no goal in her life. Eun-sung, frustrated and furious, tells her that she had dreamed to be a singer, but now it’s too late. She’s got a husband and a child already. We learn that Eun-sung’s dream have been crushed when her mother goes to her school to see her sing, but left early. Eun-sung chases after her mother, but all her mother tells her is, “Vulgar.” Ouuuuch.

Eun-sung wants to sing, and it’s cute to see her husband so supportive of her, and tells her to go audition. Hee-kyung, on the other hand, races to the audition after hearing about it, and hopes not to be embarrassed. At the audition, Eun-sung is unbelievably nervous, and one of the judges is a person who hates her mom. The judge jeers of how Eun-sung should live up to her mother, and that she should be just as good. After Eun-sung messes up, he even tells her to try again, humiliating her. I think this is where Hee-kyung feels that she has to protect her child from the judge (besides the fact that he’s also insulting her), and steps up to sing the beginning of the song for her daughter. It’s such a sweet moment, as Hee-kyung looks proudly at her daughter singing on stage, though the whole experience was probably overdue by a whole decade. With tears in her eyes, Hee-kyung realizes her daughter’s dreams and chidingly says, “Vulgar.”

This is my least favorite couple, but it’s still very sweet and touching, and you really see Hee-kyung change into a rounder person. However, I do find it a little abrupt and sudden that she realizes her daughter’s dreams, after being ignorant for such a long time. Maybe it was the fact that her own daughter was standing on the stage that really shook her up.

I know I spoke very little about Hee-kyung and Eun-sung, but I think it’s time to move on. Our last mother-and-child is DONG-SOOK (Uhm Jung-Hwa) and WON-JAE (Lee Hyung-Suk). Together, they are very, very cute together, doing morning exercises and eating together, and playing all sorts of rhyming games, which makes an important impact later. 

Dong-sook is a single mother who works at a yogurt delivering/selling company. She works really hard every day to save for a world trip with Won-jae, and also cleans apartments for people. Won-jae has muscular dystrophy and could not walk without crutches, so Dong-sook feels that she has to work extra hard to support him and neglects her own health. When Dong-sook unexpectedly faints in front of an apartment she was cleaning, she is sent to the hospital, where she finds out that she has ovarian cancer. It’s so heartbreaking to see Dong-sook begging her doctor to tell her that everything’s not true, and that she needs just five more years, as that’s all her son has left to live. Dong-sook even thinks of suicide, and as she piggyback rides Won-jae, she was going to suicide by jumping into a river. At the same time, she starts a rhyming game with Won-jae, starting with elope (to cope, pope, etc.). Right when Dong-sook is going to step off the edge, Won-jae mumbles (he’s half asleep):
"I like the word hope. So I put it on my wall. Hope will never abandon you. It’s you who abandons hope."
This gives Dong-sook courage and strength to continue, and she tries her best to live happily, until she faints again. This time Won-jae finds out, and it’s so sad to see him walk on his crutches all the way to the hospital to beg the doctor to save his mom. Honestly, I probably cried a bucket here because it’s so heartbreaking.

While waiting for his mom’s surgery to be over, Won-jae receives many texts from strangers, telling him to have hope (such as “Hope will come true. Believe it, Won-jae ah!”). At first, I’m like what? But we later see that Dong-sook has slipped notes into the yogurt-buying families’ homes. She wrote,
"Hi there. I’m the yogurt-delivering lady. Long time no see. I’ve been a bit sick so I’m getting surgery. The doctors say that I could die. I know I’m going to fight through it. Why? Because I have to keep my promise with my son who is fighting muscular dystrophy. My son is just 11 years old. He’s not even able to come to the hospital. He’s alone, probably praying desperately for his mom. Please help him fight through this. All he need is your message of hope. Hope is his favorite word. Those message and energy will protect my son and I believe they’ll save me. I’m going to make through this. I have to. I have no other choice. Because I’m a mother."
Aww, this movie really wants me to cry my heart out, doesn’t it? I love how you see Ok-joo, Eun-sung and Hee-kyung, Seung-chul and his lackeys all send encouraging texts to Won-jae, even if they don’t know him personally. This movie is touching to the core. Like I said earlier, it’s the one-of-a-kind love, and I’m such a sucker for these types of stories. While this movie wasn’t very fluffy (or rather, not just fluff), there are serious conflicts and obstacles to overcome, and it gives this movie the depth it needs to convey its message. This movie is powerful and moving, and really makes you love and appreciate your mom even more.

The story itself is quite tightly woven, as all of the six main characters live near by each other, though they don’t know one another. We see Seung-chul buying some yogurt from Dong-sook, Ok-joo sees Hee-kyung in an elevator, and other cute coincidences. The transitions from one family to another are fast that way, and there was never a moment when I was bored. This movie very sweet and I loved it.

However, I do have one tiny problem with the story: Why does Ok-joo and Dong-sook both have cancer? Ok-joo has breast cancer, and Dong-sook has ovarian cancer. I think that with just one (like Ok-joo has cancer, but Dong-sook doesn’t or vice versa) would have been fine, but I understand that the producers are picking touching stories to write about, and ones without any conflict would be boring.

I know I spent most of the time talking about the characters and plot, but there was nothing out of the norm with the camera and music. The plot and characters, however, are spectacular and breath taking. Please watch this movie if you have time! I would buy this movie on DVD, too (though I’m supposed to be frugal. I know what you’re thinking.)

Last but not least…
I hope you liked my review! I’m still an amateur at writing reviews, so if you have any suggestions, please email me at:
(or comment below!)

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