Yoo Rim (Yoo Sun) is a divorced woman who lives with her teenage daughter Eun Ah (Nam Bo-Ra). After her first few days at a new school, Eun Ah falls for a quiet boy called Jo Han (Dong-Ho). After convincing Eun Ah to meet him alone, Jo Han shows his true colours and proceeds to rape her and then threatens her with a videotape of the assault. Although Yoo Rim takes the case to the authorities, the boys are released with minimal punishments and Eun Ah eventually takes her own life. Determined to see the criminals brought to justice, Rim takes matters into her own hands and swears to get revenge for her daughter.
After seeing the previews for ‘Don’t Cry, Mommy’, my interest was officially peaked. There is something about a good revenge tale that I find extremely satisfying and Korea has definitely dished up a couple of genre gems of late. ‘Don’t Cry, Mommy’ certainly starts out well enough, with an uncomfortably realistic setup that immediately gets your blood boiling. Yoo Sun and Nam Bo-Ra also do a good job of recreating the mother/daughter dynamic and both provide some fittingly emotional outbursts during the film’s darker moments. Unfortunately, all of this good work is somewhat undone by the way in which the events unfold. Although it is hard to know how anyone would cope in this situation without actually living it, ‘Don’t Cry, Mommy’ needlessly drags out the concept and has the characters make some very difficult to comprehend decisions. While these moments aren’t exactly crippling enough to completely derail the film, they are extremely frustrating and regularly drag you out of the experience.
Of course, what you really came to see here isn’t the pain and suffering, it’s the snotty little brats getting their just desserts. While it’s fair to say that they do eventually get what they deserve, this isn’t exactly another ‘Taken’. Instead, the film clearly chooses to veer on the side of realism and only has the mother turn to violence after all other avenues have failed. This is all fine and dandy, but it’s a bit of a shame that they seem so determined to hammer the point home before finally getting to the “good” bits. Anyway, once it does arrive it is still fairly satisfying. As I said before, there isn’t any kind of intricate choreography and instead what we see is a woman being led purely by her emotions and regularly messing up. This may of course disappoint those of you hoping for some kind of gruesome retribution, but I think it definitely suits the overall tone and adds some welcome tension to the proceedings.
‘Don’t Cry, Mommy’ is a decent entry into the revenge genre, albeit a fairly imperfect one. After setting up the story so well, the film seems determined to irritate the audience with some ludicrous plot devices. Luckily though, the leading performances and final third do just about enough to keep it on track.