Philbert Dy’s review published on Letterboxd:
The Netflix algorithm gets me. Mother is kind of likeShoplifters if it stripped the movie of any Koreeda romanticism and replaced it with a layer of Sion Sono's true crime cynicism. It's a miserable tale of a boy whose life is entirely consumed by his abusive, psychopathic mother, who basically uses him to elicit sympathy from people who have had enough of her shit. And when that stops working, she pushes him to do even worse things.
The length is tough, since this is largely unpalatable material to begin with. Sitting through two hours of this kid suffering the cruelty of his mother will be a test that a lot of people will likely not want to sit through. I barely made it myself, but I'm pretty impressed with where it ends up. It really does make an attempt at understanding the twisted psychological that led to the horrific events that inspired this movie, but it doesn't go as far as to provide an easy redemption for the characters, or even a clear explanation for what really went on in their heads.
It just sits quietly, sometimes. It lingers on the implications, lets things settle on feelings that are painfully irrational. None of this should have happened, but it did. And we want it to make sense, but it doesn't, really. There are just children, and there are parents, and there is whatever bond that exists between them. Maybe it's all just biology in the end.