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Director Bong Promises Hotter Movie With 'Mother'

2009/04/27 Source

By Lee Hyo-won
Staff Reporter

Filmmaker Bong Joon-ho promises something "hotter" for his upcoming film "Mother - 2009", which will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival next month before its local theater release May 28.

"If movies could be measured by temperature, then I imagine that `Mother' is much hotter than my previous works", the director of the blockbuster "The Host" and modern classic "Memories of Murder" told reporters at a Seoul theater, Monday.

When asked if he felt disheartened about not being in Cannes' competition pool alongside countryman Park Chan-wook, he said it was too early for him to compete against big names like the "Thirst" director and Quentin Tarantino. "But I am greatly confident about the movie's solidity and artistry. Once it's revealed to the world at the festival, where I've had experience with `The Host', I am looking forward to people's reactions", said the 39-year-old about the film's invitation to the prestigious event's non-competitive "Un Certain Regard" section.

But Bong was more diffident than confident about the movie, saying he needs more time to figure out whether or not "Mother" is a "convincing film".

"I was shocked to hear figure skater Kim Yu-na say, after winning the world championship, that she gave a `more convincing' routine for the first time", he said. "Whenever I'm forced to watch my own movies, I'm constantly regretting, `Why ever did I shoot that scene like that'. I'll have to finish post-production and look back at my work".

"Mother" stars Won Bin as a dimwitted young man who is erroneously framed for a neighbor's death while South Korea's veteran actress Kim Hye-ja plays his distraught mother who struggles to prove his innocence by tracking down the real murderer on her own.

"There isn't a more instinctive word than `mother'. We say `eomma' (mother) when we're surprised", he said, explaining that he chose the phonetic transliteration of the English word for the title because there was already a recent movie called "Eomma" ("The Long and Winding Road", 2004) starring Go Doo-shim.

He first conceived of the idea for "Mother - 2009" shortly after shooting "Memories of Murder" but had to push it back due to "The Host". Having been a fan of Kim ever since a young age, Bong said the actress inspired the story. The film would never have been realized had Kim, a household name here as the quintessential mother figure, turned down the role, he said.

The actress, who returns to the silver screen for the first time in a decade since "Mayonnaise" (1999), said she had been hearing about the project from Bong for five years and felt as though it was already made and released. The "Mom's Dead Upset!" star said she did not take on as many movie roles because most offers were similar to her TV personalities. But "Mother - 2009", she said, was a "novel experience" that required not only a lot of running but also testing the limits of her 47 years of acting know-how. The 67-year-old said she felt "latent cells and even dead cells awaken" in her for the emotionally and physically draining project.

Bong said Won played the perfect son who "lights up the dynamite" that is Kim and actually modeled his character Do-jin after the actor. Do-jin is of course the hallyu star's real name, and Kim drew laughter as she said that Won truly resembled his character, who is so ingenuous to the point of being rather dimwitted.

But the director said that once shooting began, Won's innocence disappeared with his "fierce" professionalism.

The 31-year-old heartthrob returns to the public radar after a four-year hiatus nursing a knee wound that disrupted his mandatory military service. "I felt like this movie was an opportunity not to be missed, and my heart feels so full. It was a great pleasure to work with director Bong and Kim Hye-ja, who was like a true mother to me during the filming", he said.

In theaters May 28. 18 and over. Distributed by CJ Entertainment.

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