Netflix recently released the Japanese film “Mother” and let me tell you. It’s both fantastic but painful to watch at the same time. Let’s break down this wonderful film together.
First off, I love foreign films. They have such a different feel to it than western movies. The story is based on the life of a boy named Shuhei who is being raised by his single mother Akiko. Akiko isn’t exactly what you’d consider Mother of the Year, considering they’re both constantly on the move and sometimes even on the streets. Akiko is notorious for gambling and asking for money from whoever has it, and even uses Shuhei as a pawn to get it. Their relationship is extremely codependent but also toxic. At one point Akiko starts seeing a man that beats both her and Shuhei when he finds out that Akiko is pregnant with his child.
Fast forward a couple of years. Shuhei is now 17 and his little sister is now 5. He lives on the streets with his mother and sister but a social service worker offers them a place to stay out of the cold and even enrolls Shuhei in a free school for teens. Shuhei is apprehensive at first but soon discovers he wants to finish school and get a job. His mother doesn’t agree and wants to keep using him to get money off people. It’s obvious Shuhei wants to be free of his mother’s ways but he knows that she’d never survive without him.
That’s as much as I can say about the plot without giving anything major away. The reason why I mentioned this film was painful to watch was because of how real it felt. We see homeless individuals everyday whether it be on tv or out on the streets. And the movie even shows Akiko’s gambling problem which is the source of her money grabbing ways. It deals with very real, everyday problems that people have. The reality of addiction, homelessness and mentally and physically abusive family members. The film touches base on these issues and doesn’t sugarcoat the seriousness of it.
The acting is spot on. Considering how young the actor was who played young Shuhei, his performance made your heart lurch. He didn’t cry once when he was thrown into a horrible situation and it personally made me want to jump through the screen and get him out of there. Masami Nagasawa, who plays Akiko, was phenomenal. I’ve always said that if an actor/actress has the ability to make me furious at their character then they’re clearly doing something right. There were multiple scenes where I wanted to just smack Akiko in the face because of the way she acts and that to me is beautiful acting on all fronts. She has the power to anger viewers but at the same time, captivate them and keep them hooked on the film.
That being said, Mother is definitely worth checking out for yourself. If you’re a lover of foreign films, you should absolutely watch this movie.
Mother is available to watch on Netflix.