Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
It is Hye-ja Kim that carries Mother, making her mother of a Mother an all-suffering, all-enduring victim who acquires more spine and subtler shadings as the story deliberately, patiently reveals its secrets.
New York Times:
Though richly and believably drawn, Mr. Bong's characters are often opaque and mysterious, given to sudden rages, behavioral blurts and hiccups of weird humor. But it's this very mystery that can make them feel terribly real.
Bong is so concerned with whodunit that his creaky genre mechanics diminish Kim's determined performance: She's often shunted to the side of the action...
Mother considers the various ways children are shaped by their acquaintances -- who may not have their best interests at heart -- as well as by family members who mean well, but still make mistakes.
You never know where Mother is going to go next. All you know is that you're in the hands of a master with an appreciably bent sense of humor.
J. R. Jones,
Bong's opening and climactic scenes, in which the old woman bops around to a dance tune amid a vast field of yellow grass, are typical of the movie's cockeyed poetry.
An alluring piece of work, an artful whodunit that melds shrewd plotting with resourceful camera work and sympathetic characters that are fascinatingly, morbidly off.
Christian Science Monitor:
Nothing in this movie plays out the way you expect it to. Bong's style is comically tart even in the film's most noirish moments.
Disturbing, enthralling and filled with interesting shots that reflect an artist's eye.
Another must-see marvel of horror, comedy, and impeccable filmmaking by the Korean director Bong Joon-ho...
Los Angeles Times:
At its heart, it is a probing of mother love carried to extremes in various and unexpected ways; Bong, as nervy as Quentin Tarantino, evokes the profundity of Sophocles only to compound one bleakly comic irony upon another.
The fact that Mother keeps its balance is a tribute to the leading actress...
New York Daily News:
Though diligently paced and sharp to look at, the mysteries inside Mother are, finally, bloodless.
New York Post:
Bong realizes the treasure he has in Kim and allows the camera to fixate on her -- in wide shots of glowing fields and in unforgiving close-ups.
There are twists aplenty and if some of the deductions arrive too easily as a result of contrived clues and convenient witness testimony, those credulity hurdles are easily vaulted in the name of a good story.
The film is labyrinthine and deceptive, and not in a way we anticipate. It becomes a pleasure for the mind.
A slippery, marvelously crafted drama that suggests the psychological thrillers of Hitchcock or Henri-Georges Clouzot transposed to present-day Korea.
Bong's ability to sustain three or four different tones in one movie without betraying the emotional truth of the story is nothing short of amazing: He can pat his head, rub his stomach, and break our hearts all at the same time.
Bold, unpredictable and quietly devastating, Mother is Bong's first masterpiece.
Less visionary than Bong's 2003 serial-killer mystery, "Memories of Murder," but with the same skillfully natural evocation of a rural community hiding dark secrets.
[A] subtle, yet no less visceral, horror-comedy, fully worthy of its primal title.
As with director Bong Joon-ho's previous film The Host, Mother also is a movie about a monster. Only this one wears an apron.