How does your view of the main character change throughout the course of this film? What does this movie say about its themes of motherhood and justice? What do you think the mother’s small tin of acupuncture needles symbolizes?
Initially I found the mother to be overbearing to Do-Joon and thought that he acted so innocently because of her coddling and forced dependence. As the story quickly progresses to the murder of Ah-Jung, Do-Joon goes to jail and “Mother” begins to show the extent that she would go to fulfill her need or dependence of the relationship with her son. I thought that this is where her senile side really begins to show and although I could understand being traumatized by losing ones son to a life sentence, she refuses to believe that her son that has violent outbursts could possibly have done anything wrong. She wants to blame anyone she can and it becomes apparent that she is actually trying to save her son more so for herself, than for his own good. When it is revealed that Mother had attempted to kill herself and her son, when he was a child, I could no longer take her as a seriously devoted parent to the betterment of her child’s life. She continues to allow more violence upon others to get information and eventually kills a man who revealed the truth about her son to her, which I believe is a moment where a part of her died. At this time the theme of justice is really revealed as a question. Do people only want justice when is favors them or is the answer they desire? Throughout the movie blame and incarceration are given to those without much real investigation other than here say and tit for tat. No one is ever happy with the outcome of “justice”, which leads one to interpret that justice is never fair nor what people actually want. Motherhood is shown to an extreme, with a tendency to lose one’s mind in defense of their children. In the society portrayed, women received very little respect and were taken advantage of in many disgusting ways. Motherhood would be a very difficult challenge with so little help and no existing marriage or relationship to help fulfill the needs of children.
I believe that the tin would best represented by the word “salvation”. In each circumstance, which these needles are used or shown, they are to serve as a substitute for monetary payment or an incentive for information or tool to get what Mother needs. It is foreshadowed that the needles would bring her harm, when the lady married to a social worker says it could harm more than herself, but the whole city. This tin or salvation, is eventually what gives her the truth of her sons story, which causes her to murder the man and burn down his home and the release of her son, who was a danger to the town. In the end, the salvation Mother requires is the release from her memory so that she can dance and be free once more of her tragic story, which the acupuncture provides.