A Moon Hye-Rim, a young nurse in a Seul VIP hospital, is looking after the dying millionaire. The man needs an urgent heart transplant and his son Song Woo asks the nurse to play a detective and find the next of kin of a brain dead patient, a pregnant prostitute nicknamed Madonna. As Moon Hye-Rim dwells deep into the life of Madonna she discovers a heartbreaking story of a vulnerable woman and her continuous spiral into peril from the moment she was born. Keeping her own dark secrets at bay, Moon Hye-rim is now determined to stop the heart transplant. But Song Woo has his own reasons to keep his father alive and will stop at nothing, not even murder.
If there was one word to describe MADONNA it would he "heartbreaking". It is a story of a vulnerable human being growing up in a hostile world. As Moon Hye-rim investigates Madonna's past life, the stories of two women intervene in the most unexpected ways. Their fates are much more similar than it seems at a first glance. The nurse Moon Hye-rim represents an older, toughened up version of Madonna, while the story of Madonna may be something that Moon Hye-rim herself had experienced in the past.
The film belongs to two leading ladies. While Seo Young-Hee in the role of the nurse is a talented well known actor, Madonna is portrayed by a newcomer Kwon So-Hyun - an inspired choice. Kwon's Madonna triggers all sorts of emotions, but the ones that prevail are the sympathy and the pity. Madonna is an odd person, and each of her efforts to fit in had an opposite effect. Madonna is quite unlikable and it is easy to understand why she had been treated so badly.
The film's unnerving topics such as violence against women and newborn murder leave nasty aftertaste, with one revelation towards the end being particularly shocking. This is the movie that makes it hard to sympathise with any of the characters, but you can praise them for trying, especially Moon Hye-rim, who frights tooth and nail for the remains of her humanity.
MADONNA is not an easy film to watch, but it is a mesmerising journey, with memorable characters and performances to match.