Opening as a compelling portrait of a teenage girl whose first crush turns into a gang-rape nightmare that triggers her suicide, “Don’t Cry, Mommy” runs off the rails with her grieving mother’s quest for vengeance. Based on an amalgam of true stories, helmer Kim Yong-han’s feature debut makes a sincere if heavy-handed plea for re-evaluating South Korean laws applying to underage sex offenders. Hot-topic subject matter and casting of pop star Dong-ho as the chief violator should help attract OK biz when the pic is released next month.
Arriving at a new school in the wake of her parent’s divorce, conscientious 17-year-old Eun-ha (Nam Bo-ra, excellent) is attracted to handsome student Jo-han (Dong-ho). Preying on her innocence, Jo-han and friends Pak Joon (Kwan Hyun-sang) and Min-gu (Lee Sang-min) rape Eun-ha, and threaten to post footage of the incident online if she talks. After Eun-ha’s suicide, the perps receive only the limited punishment applicable under prevailing laws. Pic’s serious social message is never completely lost, but subtlety gives way to dramatic overkill once Eun-ha’s grieving mother, Yoo-lim (Yu Sun), takes matters into her own hands. Perfs and tech work are fine.