MOTHER AND SON (1997) is a small story of patience, love, and growing old from Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov. With minimal dialog, Sokurov shows us scenes of a dying woman being cared for by her grown son. He carries her outside for "walks" and tenderly reassures her as she slips into and out of sleep, approaching the inevitable.
The "plot" of MOTHER AND SON is incidental to the imagery. This film is really a form of "visual poetry" -- presenting beautiful sounds and images of nature, interwoven with the story of the bond between a man and his aged mother.
This is not a film for everyone. Most will find it boring and self-conscious. Some will find it enthralling and a work of genius. Some will fall in the middle (like me) and find it interesting, but ultimately frustrating and tedious. It's certainly a challenging film -- challenging what we have come to expect when we sit down to a movie. The experience here is closer to walking through an art museum than watching a typical film. Although it didn't appeal to me or stir my emotions, I'm sure that there are some who will love this unique approach.
Any further review of the picture quality is difficult, because in the unique way the movie was filmed. Several scenes are intentionally distorted; others are filmed with filters and lenses to intentionally appear hazy and indistinct. The film is very colorful, but the colors appear muted and bland on the DVD (which, for all I know, may be an accurate representation of the director's intentions).
Overall, the transfer is watchable. It's not nearly as bad as some Fox Lorber/Winstar titles, but it's not wonderful either. Some of the deficiencies can definitely be attributed to the "dream-like" atmosphere of the film, but I fear that some are also the result of a mediocre transfer.
It's unfortunate that Alexander Sokurov wasn't able to (or chose not to) record this film in Dolby Digital 5.1 or at least provide some ambient surround sounds -- I think it would definitely have been an improvement.