FILM REVIEW: Mom
Mom tracks the life of a woman as she transitions from childhood to motherhood, while exploring what it means to be a parent.
Director: Wooksang Chang
Cast: Doohee Kim, Junghwa Yan
Runtime: 12 min
Review by Leon Lau
You’ve heard the expression before. Get a good job, find a partner and start your own family. The phrasing might be a little different but the idea is always the same. Become your own person. Forge your own path. But what about the people we leave behind? In our rush to grow up and become independent adults, are we forgetting the people who raised us?
Mom (2015) is a heartbreaking but painstakingly beautiful animated short about the cycle of motherhood. The focus here isn’t on a radical plot or quirky characters. Instead, director Wooksang Chang keeps things simple and serves up an incredible visual experience that touches the heart.
We follow the journey of an unnamed woman as she grows from a baby to a young woman, and eventually a mother of her own. The film unfolds in a dream like montage that is reminiscent of the classic “married life” sequence from Up (2010), and the entirety of Mom rests on strong visual storytelling to touch on its themes of motherhood.
Like the more recent Bao (2018), the film uses the medium of animation to have incredibly expressive characters that allows the filmmakers to forgo dialogue and focus on visuals. And what visuals they are.
There is a ridiculous amount of detail poured into the backgrounds and animations. A combination of computer generated imagery, miniatures and real life pictures result in an otherworldly look that is both surreal and stunning. Pastel colors are used liberally and there is an abundance of beautifully composed pillow shots.
The pacing is wonderfully relaxed which allows us to take in the moment. This all adds up to a serene experience that catches you emotionally off guard with its quiet moments. It manages to be touching through its sincerity and simplicity, and there is an advantage to keeping things so simple. It allows the mother to act as an archetypal character so that the audience can easily imagine their own parents in the situation, making the emotional impact even more universal.
This is an incredibly moving tale about the cycle of life and what it means to be a parent. It is a visual masterpiece of animation that backs up its style with waves of tear jerking moments. Above all else, Mom is a sweet reminder for us to treasure our loved ones while we still have time.