6 Movies Like Ma mère (2004)

Staff & contributors

The 2016 outing of South-Korean auteur director Park Chan-wook (maker of Oldboy and Stoker) once again shifts attention to the dark side of what makes us human: betrayal, violence, and transgression. Based on the 2002 novel Fingersmith by British author Sarah Waters, The Handmaiden revolves around the love of two women and the greedy men around them. Park shifts the novel's plot from Victorian London to 1930s Korea, where an orphaned pickpocket is used by a con man to defraud an old Japanese woman. Routinely called a masterpiece with comparisons made to the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, this is a stylish and meticulous psychological thriller that packs enough erotic tension to put a crack in your screen. If you love cinema, you can't miss this movie. You might even have to watch it twice.

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Romance, Thriller

Actor: Bae Il-hyuck, Cho Jin-woong, Choi Byung-mo, Choi Jong-ryul, Eun-hyung Jo, Ha Jung-woo, Ha Si-yeon, Hae-suk Kim, Han Ha-na, In-woo Kim, Jeong Ha-dam, Jeong In-kyeom, Jin-woong Jo, Jo Eun-Hyung, Jung In-gyeom, Jung-woo Ha, Kim Hae-sook, Kim Hae-suk, Kim In-woo, Kim Min-hee, Kim Si-eun, Kim Tae-ri, Kwak Eun-jin, Lee Dong-hwi, Lee Ji-ha, Lee Kyu-jung, Lee Yong-nyeo, Lim Han-bin, Min-hee Kim, Moon So-ri, O Man-seok, Oh Man-seok, Rina Takagi, So-ri Moon, Tae-ri Kim, Takashi Kakizawa, Tomomitsu Adachi

Director: Chan-wook Park, Park Chan-wook

Rating: Not Rated

Based on the Austrian novel, The Piano Teacher is as brilliant and as disturbed as its protagonist. The film follows Erika Kohut (Isabelle Huppert), the repressed masochist in question, and the trainwreck of a relationship that she develops with her student Walter Klemmer (Benoît Magimel). Their dynamic is undeniably toxic. Austrian auteur Michael Haneke frames each scene with clinical detachment, but it is absolutely brutal how the two characters try to assert control over each other, engage in sadomasochism, and repeatedly violate each other’s boundaries. Huppert’s heartrending performance fully commits to the merciless treatment Erika receives. But more tragic is the way Erika’s unusual relationship could’ve freed her, could’ve helped her process her abuse, and instead, reinforces her repression. It’s scary to make yourself vulnerable by admitting your desires, only for them to be used against you.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Anna Sigalevitch, Annemarie Schleinzer, Annie Girardot, Benoit Magimel, Cornelia Köndgen, Dieter Berner, Eva Green, Gabriele Schuchter, Georg Friedrich, Gerti Drassl, Isabelle Huppert, Karoline Zeisler, Klaus Händl, Liliana Nelska, Luz Leskowitz, Martina Resetarits, Michael Schottenberg, Petra Reichel, Philipp Heiss, Rudolf Melichar, Susanne Lothar, Thomas Auner, Thomas Weinhappel, Udo Samel, Vivian Bartsch, William Mang

Director: Michael Haneke

Rating: R

Given that hookups are inherently quick and casual and impersonal, they are rarely portrayed in a romantic light. But Weekend flips the script on one-night stands by giving its two lovers enough time and space to explore how far their feelings can take them. While both Russell (Tom Cullen) and Glenn (Chris New) are gay, they have more differences than similarities with each other. Russell is reserved, awkward, and not entirely open, while Glenn is the exact opposite. 

This makes for intriguing conversations, which then makes for a smart, thought-proving watch. It’s talky but meaningful, and slow but assured. But most of all it’s romantic, and it’s sure to pull at your heartstrings the whole time. 

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Chris New, Joe Doherty, Jonathan Race, Kieran Hardcastle, Laura Freeman, Loreto Murray, Mark Devenport, Sarah Churm, Tom Cullen, Vauxhall Jermaine

Director: Andrew Haigh

This dark French comedy is set in a neglected building in a working-class neighborhood. The elevator breaks and every tenant agrees to pay to fix it, except for the person who lives on the first floor. The neighbors go through with the reparations without the first-floor tenant, on the condition he never uses the elevator. Everything is fine until an incident puts him in a wheelchair.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Gustave Kervern, Isabelle Huppert, Jules Benchetrit, Larouci Didi, Michael Pitt, Tassadit Mandi, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Valeria Bruni‑Tedeschi

Director: Samuel Benchetrit

Rating: Not Rated

The Witch hardly reinvents the thriller wheel. In fact, part of the fun in watching it is calling out the cliches. Cold-blooded villain? Check. Antihero who defies death? Check. Senseless, bloody killings for minutes on end? Check, check, check. The Witch has everything you'd expect from an action movie, and yet, the viewing experience is all the better for it. 

By trimming all the unnecessary fat and zeroing in on the action, director Park Hoon-jung delivers a no-nonsense, no-holds-barred film that could hold a candle to the John Wick franchise. Like those films, the movements here are sharp and the gore relentless. The only difference is that The Witch is led by a teenage girl—seemingly flimsy but deliciously deranged, Kim-Dami is magnetic in her breakout role as the titular witch Ja-yoon. It's also a bit like Stranger Things in that sense, but comparisons aside, The Witch stands out as a razor-edged entry into the genre. 

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller

Actor: Baek Seung-chul, Cho Min-soo, Choi Jung-woo, Choi Woo-shik, Chung Ye-jin, Da-Eun, Go Min-si, Hyun Bong-sik, Jeong Da-eun, Kim Byeong-Ok, Kim Byung-ok, Kim Da-mi, Kim Ha-na, Ko Min-si, Kwon Tae-won, Lee Ju-won, Lee Ki-young, Lee Si-hoon, Oh Mi-hee, Park Hee-soon, Park Hoon-jung, Seung-chul Baek, Song Hyeong-su, Woo Min-kyu, Woo-sik Choi, Yeo Moo-yeong

Director: Hoon-jung Park, Park Hoon-jung

Rating: Not Rated, R

Xavier Dolan’s emotionally charged directorial debut centers on the complex relationship between 16-year-old Hubert and his mother, brought to life by Dolan himself and Anne Dorval, respectively. The film paints an authentic and all-too-familiar picture of two people who love each other yet clash in similarly self-centered and stubborn ways.

The mother-and-son duo vacillate between love and hate in a screenplay full of drama. The cinematography, relying much on negative space, perfectly evokes a sense of disconnect and animosity. However, there is little subtlety to be found here, much like Hubert’s sexuality being embodied by a poster of River Phoenix displayed in his bedroom. The rawness and heightened telling of events indicate that this story is as fresh and unpolished as then 19-year-old Dolan’s own feelings about family dysfunction, particularly mommy issues. The heavy-handedness and moments of exaggeration in his quasi-autobiography are obvious, a fault of execution that one can attribute to lack of experience.

Still, the powerful visuals and dialogue hint at a vision of what more to expect in Dolan’s now-celebrated career. I Killed My Mother, by all accounts, fulfills its role as his promising directorial debut.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Anne Dorval, Benoît Gouin, Émile Mailhiot, Francis Ducharme, François Arnaud, Hugolin Chevrette, Johanne-Marie Tremblay, Laurent-Christophe De Ruelle, Manuel Tadros, Marianne Verville, Monique Spaziani, Niels Schneider, Patricia Tulasne, Pierre Chagnon, Suzanne Clément, Xavier Dolan

Director: Xavier Dolan