- Product Rating -


| November 7, 2017

Going into mother!, I was curious as to how accessible it would be. After Black Swan raised Darren Aronofsky’s clout to its peak, his work finally penetrated the zeitgeist. It was with Noah in 2014 that he went into mainstream filmmaking, to which his success he achieved and gratitude he received was admittedly underwhelming. Three and a half years later, his latest presents audiences not with a response to his earlier work but with a catharsis of everything that he has worked for, warts and all.

It’s a movie where the less you know going in, the better, but know that it’s a singular look at the selfishness of artists—how their relationships with others prove to be their fuel. In mother!, the ordinary deftly morphs into an exhausting, breathless fever dream wherein everyday life is a panic attack with no end in sight in what is Arofonsky’s most audacious work in over a decade.

The movie concerns an unnamed married couple (Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem) who are in the process of renovating his old house in which he lost virtually everything in a fire. He’s a writer and she’s relegated to acting as a housewife, and he’s a struggling to get more ideas while she rebuilds the house wall-to-wall. An unknown man (Ed Harris) shows up, and while the husband is proud to invite him into their shared life, the wife is apprehensive. Soon after, a woman (Michelle Pfieffer) comes, who turns out to be the man’s wife. That’s all that needs to be known story-wise; anything else would risk revealing the narrative.

It unravels like a giant spoil of barbed wire, running over any and all audience expectations and slashing them up in the process. While the movie is largely a two-act narrative, it feels remarkably cohesive given the depths that it goes, some of which will prove to be too much for audience members. Aronofsky’s fascination with the darkness and destruction that is implicit within humanity remains as sharp as ever, like a silenced gun hidden under the vest of a finely quaffed sharp-shooter.

Shot on 16 millimeter by Matthew Libatique, who has shot all of Aronofsky’s features to date, the film maintains a disarming warmness throughout, one in which the shadows are oddly soft and the light creates a form of security that is just waiting to be perverted. Lawrence and Bardem do great work, demonstrating enough energy to match Aronofsky’s direction, which asks quite a lot of them. Harris and Pfieffer, as well as some other supporting players that appear as the movie progresses, understand the humor that lurks in such uncomfortable content, and Pfieffer specifically walks a very fine line of chewing the scenery and being blankly intimidating.

mother! is a movie that, despite all of its psychological chaos, is why movies are seen to be a form of therapy for many, myself included. When one’s surroundings feel unappreciative and fast-moving, it’s easy to fall into an abyss in which life moves exponentially faster. Aronofsky gleefully drags his audience through a bevy of carnage but (mostly) maintains just the pace to gaslight viewers into understanding the film’s Lynchian brand of logic, and when I walked out of the theater with my mouth dry, I wanted to go outside and scream into the sky.

About the Author:

Senior year film student at Columbia College Chicago, Hollywood Film Festival pre-screener, and Best Social Media Presence for North Farmington High School's 2014 senior mock elections. Firmly believes that ".gif" is pronounced "jiff".
Filed in: Horror, Now Playing

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